Lower calorie versions of alcoholic drinks could emerge in response to labelling reforms, according to a health minister.
Jo Churchill told MPs the Government will “very shortly” launch a consultation on its plans to introduce mandatory calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks sold in supermarkets, pubs, restaurants and elsewhere.
She added she hopes the changes will “encourage reformulation” of drinks given the “market opportunities” for lower calorie versions.
MPs heard the Government has been working with the industry to ensure drinking guidelines about the health risks posed by alcohol are included on labels.
On calorie labelling, Ms Churchill also told the House of Commons: “Post-Covid we know that more must be done to look after our health, however, making healthier decisions without all the information is actually quite a challenge.
“So for people to make informed decisions about the drinks they’re purchasing, they need to be able to understand what is in that product and what it means for their health.
“We know that excessive alcohol consumption can be a contributing factor to obesity.”
Ms Churchill said adults tend to consume 200 to 300 extra calories per day, noting alcohol can be a contributing factor for those who drink as it is “highly calorific”.
She went on: “We hope that the provision of calorie labelling on alcohol will encourage reformulation because actually there are market opportunities to lower calorie versions, which will further help adults reduce their calorie intake from alcohol.
“This consultation will be launched very shortly.”
In her concluding remarks, Ms Churchill insisted: “We’re not saying you can’t enjoy a drink.
“But what we’re saying, very clearly, is that we’d like to encourage the nation’s drinking to be responsible and to help people not to be one of those statistics that wrecks lives.
“We believe people have the right to accurate information to help them make decisions about the products they purchase and we’re committed to ensuring the labelling on alcohol provides this.”