From 1 January 2023, wine labelling will be regulated by EU Regulation 2021/2117 (Regulation), which amends four existing EU regulations (Regulations (EU) No. 1308/2013, 1151/2012, 251/2014, and 228/2013).
The amendments under the Regulation are aimed at providing a higher level of information to consumers. Wine labels will be required to contain a nutrition declaration and a list of ingredients. The Regulation brings an end to the existing exemption for wines, which required only allergens to be listed on the label.
Under the Regulation, producers can limit the nutrition declaration’s contents on the package or the label to the energy value. The nutrition declaration and the list of ingredients can be made available by electronic means e.g., QR code. However, producers must avoid collecting or tracking user data and cannot provide information aimed at marketing purposes. A list of substances causing allergies must remain on the physical label.
Any wine produced and labelled under the old regime before 8 December 2023 can continue to be placed on the EU market until stocks are exhausted, and there will be no need for retrospective labelling for wines already on the market. Therefore, we are unlikely to see the immediate widespread impact of the Regulation for some years.
The wine industry is already reacting to the new requirements. The European Committee of Wine has launched a digital labelling platform to support the digitalisation of wine labelling. It is anticipated that the e-label software can provide the mandatory information in a standardised form which can be translated into the requisite EU languages depending on where the wine will be sold.
Member States will be required to take measures to ensure that products which are not labelled in conformity with the Regulation are not placed on the market or, if they have already been placed on the market, are withdrawn from the market. Imports into the EU will also be checked to determine whether the conditions provided for are met.
There will also be an obligation on Member States to carry out checks, based on a risk analysis, to verify whether products conform to the rules under the Regulation. The Regulation prescribes that Member States shall apply proportionate, effective, and dissuasive administrative penalties but shall not apply such penalties where the non-compliance is of a minor nature. It will be interesting to gauge the country-by-country response to this aspect of the Regulation when producers and Member States grapple with the obligations it will impose from 1 January 2023.
Contributed by William Foley