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Lion puts nutritional information on beers

August 12, 2015
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New XXXX Gold labelling: Click to view

New XXXX Gold labelling: Click to view

In an Australian beer industry first, Lion will add nutrition information panels to bottles and cartons across its entire wholly-owned Australian beer portfolio – meaning 887 million bottles of beer will carry helpful information on sugar, preservative, calorie (kilojoule) and carbohydrate content every year, starting from August 2015.

The new labelling is the first stage of a long-term initiative called ‘Beer the Beautiful Truth’, designed to bust common myths about beer and communicate the facts – among them, that Lion’s wholly-owned Australian beers are preservative-free and most are on average 99.9% sugar-free.

The voluntary initiative, which complements existing standard drinks and pregnancy labelling, was informed by consumer research showing 87 percent of Aussies don’t know what goes into beer, and 73 per cent want more information on the beers they drink.

James Brindley, Managing Director of Lion’s Australian beer business, believes that as Australia’s leading brewer Lion should take a leadership role in revitalising the beer category.

“Despite the fact beer is still the drink of choice for most Australians, our knowledge of how it is made and what is in it is pretty patchy. Most people think beer is full of sugar and preservatives, when in actual fact our wholly-owned Australian beers are preservative-free and most are on average 99.9% sugar-free.

“We believe busting these myths and educating the public about beer is a critical step in reinvigorating the category, and one that will have flow on benefits across the industry. Beer is still the number one foot traffic driver to retail outlets and beer shoppers represent a high proportion of all liquor shoppers.

“Shoppers who know more about beer spend more on average than those with little beer knowledge, so there is a clear benefit for our customers in improving understanding of the category as a whole.

Beer the Beautiful Truth: Click to view full infographic

Beer the Beautiful Truth: Click to view full infographic

“We recognise changing perceptions of beer will take time, and Lion is committed to this campaign for the long term.”

Lion’s research shows that when it comes to their favourite tipple Australians want to know about sugar (76%), carbohydrates (52%) and calories (47%).

Mr Brindley says: “Positively, 7 in 10 also say that if this information was available it would help them make more informed drinking choices – such as choosing an option with a lower sugar, carb or calorie content, or moderating their alcohol intake.

“In this way we believe labelling transparency is not only an important first step in educating people about beer, but also in supporting them to make more informed choices about what and how they choose to drink.

“This builds on Lion’s continued investment over more than two decades in the light and mid strength categories of the beer market, with lower strength options now accounting for close to 1 in 4 beers consumed in Australia – providing plenty of choice for those looking to moderate alcohol consumption, without sacrificing flavour.”

The initiative is the first of its scale in Australia and will also include a communications program to broaden drinkers’ knowledge from November. The new labelling will initially roll out on Lion’s biggest beer brands, including XXXX, Tooheys, Hahn, James Squire and a range of smaller brands, covering more than 90 per cent of the brewer’s total owned beer volume. The remaining wholly-owned Australian beers will be updated over the coming months.

“Rest assured, this is about providing the facts about our beers, not about changing the beers themselves,” finished Mr Brindley.

Dr Sam Hay, a leading Sydney General Practitioner and former doctor in the Australian Army, welcomed the initiative.

“Like many things in life alcohol consumption is about balance and moderation. The easier it is for people to enjoy a drink with their mates as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle the better, and increased transparency is an important step in that direction.”

Catherine Saxelby, a leading dietitian, believes that the voluntary introduction of nutritional information labelling on beer is a positive step for the Australian alcohol industry.

“Adults are becoming more aware of how important it is to read nutritional labels on food, but they often forget to consider that drinking alcohol can also impact their daily nutrition intake.

“It’s not uncommon for people to underestimate the number of calories in the drinks they consume, so having nutritional information on alcohol products will enable people to enjoy a drink, while still being mindful of how it can fit within a moderate healthy lifestyle,” said Ms Saxelby.

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS FRIOM THE 2015 GALAXY SURVEY:

  • Women (71%) are more likely than men (56%) to consider nutritional information when choosing an alcohol beverage
  • Having sugar content appear on nutrition information labels is especially important to women (80%)
  • Most people (94%) overestimate the amount of sugar in beer
  • Only 6% are aware that there is generally less than half a gram of sugar in a 375ml stubby of full strength beer. Most people think there is at least double the actual amount of sugar in beer that there actually is

For more information visit: www.beerthebeautifultruth.com.

2 Responses to Lion puts nutritional information on beers

  1. D.O'Donnell on August 18, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Matt I think in your role S conscience of the brewing industry you shouldn’t be asking yourself whether saying mainstream beers are 99.9percent sugar free isn’t a bit misleading. In fact most Australian mainstream beers have about 25 percent of sugar in their grist. Whilst this is predominantly fermented to alcohol and is presumably the basis of the claim I feel your average consumer would be led to believe that no sugar was used in the brewing of the beer a la the reinheitsgebot.
    This is my personal view and should not be ascribed to my employer.nevertheless it’s a good initiative and inevitable almg with ingredient labelling.

    • Editor on August 18, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      I’m not sure that I am the conscience of anyone Dermot! But as for the sugar thing, I don’t think most consumers care that most mainstream beers use sugar in the brewing process, just whether there is sugar in them when they are consumed. The campaign definitely minimises the use of adjunct sugars in brewing but it does still refer to them throughout the site and, as you have told me, there are good reasons (and bad) to use sugar in brewing, but they are far too nuanced – and ultimately irrelevant, in my view – for a consumer education campaign designed to tackle the erroneous belief that beer when consumed is high in carbs, fattening and unhealthy.

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