Labelling the topic of debate at CEVI’s 15th anniversary

Friday November 17 2017 by Vitisphere

- Photo credit : Bertrand Collard

In public, relations are more than cordial. Behind the scenes, they are tense. The feeling was obvious at the reception organised on November 7 at the Cercle Royal Gaulois in Brussels by the European Independent Wine Growers’ Federation (CEVI) to celebrate its 15th anniversary.

Guest speaker Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Health Commissioner, began his speech with some friendly banter: “Wine is a fundamental part of European culture”, he said. “It brings us closer together. In Europe, we are all different but we come together because we like wine”. His introduction prompted a hail of applause from the audience.

He then continued by saying that he had not come to talking about the hazards of drinking alcohol. No, he had come to talk about nutrition labelling on drinks – another issue that raises the hackles of the wine industry.

Last March, the European Commission gave the drinks sector a year to put forward regulatory proposals on this issue. Vytenis Andriukaitis reminded the industry that he was expecting them in spring 2018.

The important issue is calories

I am very aware of the specifics of the wine sector”, he said. “But I believe that you are well placed to make significant contributions to rolling out a self-regulatory approach”.

CEVI chairman Thomas Montagne refrained from responding in public. Afterwards, he told Vitisphere: “At CEVI we are the most rigid over nutrition labelling. Stating ingredients is an absolute no-go. As regards calories, we want something simple based on information available online. Consumers do not read nutritional information. What works is education”. 

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