Give us clearer alcohol labels: drinkers

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

All age groups agreed there should be clearer labeling of alcohol content
All age groups agreed there should be clearer labeling of alcohol content

Related tags: Alcohol, Alcoholic beverage

Nearly half of British drinkers want clearer labelling of alcohol contents, while one in five people in the over 65 age group who drink alcohol consume “unsafe” levels, according to new research.

Mintel research revealed 48% of drinkers believed there should be clearer information about the alcohol content – measured as percentage alcohol by volume (ABV) – on drinks’ packaging or pump clips. A quarter said they often considered calorie content when choosing what to drink.

Women were more likely than men to seek out healthier alcoholic drinks, such as those with a lower calorie and alcohol content.

More than a quarter (27%) of female drinkers reported often considering the calorie content when buying drinks, compared with 21% of men.

‘Not always easily visible’

The research firm’s senior drinks analyst Chris Wisson said: “Information such as alcohol and calorie content is not always easily visible on alcoholic drinks’ packaging or pump clips.​  

“This could be a particularly problematic issue in the on-trade, where it is often difficult to get close to the bar to see pump clips or packaged drinks. All age groups show a broadly similar agreement that there should be clearer information about the alcohol content.”

The owners of drink brands could also talk more specifically about how their ABV is beneficial to the taste and enjoyment of the drink, he added. For example, they could explain how it helped to enhance the taste of ingredients such as hops or grapes.

Quality over quantity appeared to be top of many drinkers’ minds, as they sought better quality drinks for the fewer occasions in which they drink. More than half (55%) of drinkers said it was worth paying more for higher quality drinks.

Labelling concern

“All age groups show a broadly similar agreement that there should be clearer information about the alcohol content.”

  • Chris Wisson, Mintel

Nation’s favourite tipple

The nation’s favourite tipple remained wine, preferred by 54% of those surveyed, followed by lager.

Sales of alcoholic drinks rose by 11% between 2010 and 2014, with further growth expected to push the market towards £42.9bn this year. Alcohol sales were predicted to reach £50bn by 2020.

Mintel research also revealed more Britons claimed they planned to cut back on booze​ over the next year. But saving money rather than health concerns was the main motivator, said Wisson.

“Over the next year a higher share of Brits are expecting to cut back than increase their consumption. While consumers may have understood health problems associated with drinking for quite some time, it seems rising prices have finally prompted Brits to consider cutting back the amount of alcohol they are drinking,”​ he said.

Meanwhile, many senior alcohol drinkers were drinking “unsafe”​ levels, judging by research published on the British Medical Journal​ (BMJ) website BMJ Open​.

The researchers analysed data from 27,991 people aged over 65 living in London. Of the 9,248 people who admitted drinking alcohol, 21% were said to drink more than the safe recommended limits.

Report author and general practitioner (GP) Dr Mark Ashworth said more seniors drank unsafe levels of alcohol than those in the general population.

"Very few GPs are switched on to the idea that their older patients could be drinking at these levels. We all look out for it in younger patients, but we are less attuned to it in the elderly.”

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