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UK retailers split over calories on wine labels

Top supermarkets in the UK are divided on whether to print calorie counts on wine labels, as Sainsbury's earns government praise for backing the policy.

Sainsbury’s, which late last year overtook Asda-WalMart to become the UK‘s second largest supermarket, has committed to printing calorie amounts on all its own-brand wines over the next two years.

Its move drew praise from the UK government, but also revealed division between multiple retailers, which together account for the vast majority of the country’s wine sales and have large own-brand ranges.

Sainsbury’s said its own research found 85% of consumers surveyed didn’t know how many calories are in the average glass of wine.

Even though a majority of respondents said they don’t include wine when counting calories, two thirds still said they would like to see calorie labelling on alcohol.

‘It is clear from our research that shoppers are confused regarding the calories in alcohol,’ said Helen Buck, chair of Sainsbury’s responsible drinking steering group.

‘We hope that by clearly displaying this information on the bottle, we’ll be able to help our customers to make responsible choices more easily.’

Public health minister Jane Ellison said, ‘the use of calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks is a key way the industry can help support responsible drinking.’

But, not everybody agrees. A spokesperson for Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, told decanter.com ‘there are currently no plans to label own-label wines with the calorie content on the bottle’. Rival retailer Morrisons has also said it doesn’t plan to introduce calorie labelling on wine.

Upmarket retailer Waitrose, by contrast, has been printing calories per 100ml and per glass on its own-brand alcoholic drinks for the past three years.

Read our blog about Calories on wine labels and have your say.

Written by Chris Mercer

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