Australia’s beer, wine and spirits producers are deeply disappointed that Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, NT, and the ACT pressed ahead with a prescribed colour scheme that will impose substantial unnecessary costs on producers, while reiterating our support for mandatory pregnancy warning labels, following today’s decision by Food Forum Ministers.

This decision was not about mandatory labelling as producers support that. It was about cost and the resultant impact on business and jobs. A colour contrast version would have avoided the drastic costs that a mandated three colour version imposes.

Andrew Wilsmore, CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia, said that he was pleased that the industry’s voluntary labelling initiative, instituted in 2014 and now in almost universal usage, will be strengthened and made mandatory.

“Our pictogram of a pregnant woman holding a glass with a line through her silhouette is familiar sight to many Australians, and we support the evolution and wider implementation of the design.

“But we’re extremely disappointed that some Ministers have chosen to ignore the voices of thousands of small brewers, winemakers and distillers across the country by deviating from the usual requirements for contrast colours in favour of a strict red-black-white colour scheme that will cost producers hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

“Even poison labels don’t have to meet those requirements.”

Mr Wilsmore said that many small producers would be faced with set-up costs of close to $100,000 to pay for the initiative, which when combined with the ongoing devastating impacts of COVID-19 would push some them over the brink and out of business.

“Larger producers will also take a big hit, with one-off costs equivalent to the annual salaries of close to 6,500 employees,” Mr Wilsmore said.

“Mandatory pregnancy labelling is a positive step forward, but the same outcome of a highly visible warning could have been achieved at far less cost, and this couldn’t have come at a worse possible time for producers.”

“On behalf of Australia’s award-winning beer, wine and spirit producers we commend the Commonwealth, NSW, Queensland and South Australia for moving an amendment to provide for an impactful yet affordable contrast label similar to all other food and beverage warnings. It is deeply disappointing that this sensible and balanced proposal did not enjoy the support of the other States and Territories,” Mr Wilsmore said.

Media inquiries:   Andrew Wilsmore, 0403 570 407

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