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WSTA welcomes UK label changes

Published:  17 October, 2023

Following a public consultation, the government has set out reforms for the wine sector which will begin in 2024.

Changes will include removing expensive and cumbersome packaging requirements – such as mandatory foil caps and mushroom-shaped stoppers for sparkling wines. Outdated rules around bottle shapes will also be scrapped, freeing up producers to use different shapes.

Feedback from the industry had shown that certain regulations within the current 400-page rulebook were, “stifling innovation and preventing the introduction of more efficient and sustainable practices”.

The government will also remove the requirement for imported wines to have an importer address on the label. However, the Food Business Operator (FBO) responsible for ensuring all legal requirements are met will still need to be identified on the label, as is the standard requirement for food products. 

Food and Drink minister Mark Spencer said: “We have a diverse and dynamic wine sector here in the UK – but for too long our producers and traders have been held back by red tape inherited from the EU.

“The reforms we’ve announced scrap outdated and burdensome rules so that our wineries, vineyards and traders can continue to innovate and help grow our economy.”

Miles Beale, CEO, WSTA said: “We welcome the measures announced by the government, many of which the WSTA has been calling for for a number of years.

“Removing the restrictive rules on importer labelling will significantly reduce the post-Brexit impact of having to have a unique UK label. Moving to labelling Food Business Operator should allow one common label for both UK and EU markets, which will maintain the UK as an attractive destination market and support our aim for UK consumers to continue to have access to the widest possible choice of wine from around the world.

“And at a time when businesses are doing all they can to minimise packaging waste, changes to packaging rules will be good for business, the environment and consumers.”

Ned Awty, director and interim CEO of WineGB added: “Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of our domestic wine industry, WineGB welcomes any measures that support these values.

“We also look forward to any future legislation changes that will help Britain’s fastest growing agricultural sector thrive.

“In addition to the UK’s status as a global wine trading hub, England and Wales has a thriving and fast-growing domestic winemaking industry which has seen a 74% growth in hectarage of vines in the last five years. These reforms will modernise regulations and encourage investment in all areas of the wine sector, from the domestic wine trade to our thriving vineyards and wineries.”

The consultation response, Wine: reforms to retained EU law can be read in full here.