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27/10/2009

A waste of energy, says France’s wine industry

(First appeared on La Journée Vinicole, edition number 201, October 21 2009)

The French wine industry has voiced fierce criticism over a European proposal aimed at stating calorie content on wine labels.

The proposal is part of a raft of measures targeting foodstuffs, which include ingredient labelling.

Although the European Commission has suggested a five-year period of assessment and exemption for calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks, some countries have called for immediate and compulsory application of the measure.

Wine industries in several European countries are opposed to calorie labelling.

Many feel that the specific characteristics linked to each growing region and even wine making methods used by individual growers result in huge calorie variations from wine one to another, therefore distorting consumer information.

A study commissioned by the European Commission itself in 2005 on the impact of labelling measures revealed that consumers attached no importance to calorie statements on wines.

Leading producer countries expressed their hostility to the measure in Brussels at the end of September.

However, despite strong opposition within the French wine industry, the country’s government has remained surprisingly mute over the issue.

“We do not understand why the government is silent over this issue," said Pierre Aguilas, chairman of the AOC producers federation CNAOC.

"It’s as if it was ashamed to support wine.”

Eleven countries have come down in support of immediate calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks while producer countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece, Germany and Rumania have sided with the European Commission and support a five-year exemption period for wines and spirits followed by an assessment.

CNAOC has asked the government to align the official French position with those of other producer countries and back the Commission’s proposal.

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