The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has launched the UK’s first comprehensive alcohol guide for the no and low category.

The three documents have been created by the WSTA, in collaboration with its members, in an effort to “clear up confusion over the marketing, labelling and production of low and no wines and spirits”.

“As the low and no sector continues to innovate and grow the WSTA is pleased to offer - for the first time in the UK - a comprehensive set of guides to help members navigate the often-confusing world of describing, labelling and marketing no and low alcohol drinks,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.   

“These detailed documents offer clarity and comprehensive guidance to help producers avoid pitfalls. If you are making low and no wines and spirits these guides are a must read.”

The first two guides will be the WSTA Marketing Guide for Alcohol Alternatives and WSTA Guidance on Labelling of Low and No ‘Spirit’ Alternatives, with a third, WSTA Guidance on Labelling of Low and No ‘Wine’ Alternatives, to be published shortly.

The WSTA has also announced that it expects the Department of Health and Social Care to carry out further consultation in changing the low alcohol descriptor guidance that was published in 2018, with a view to  “increase substitution of standard-strength alcohol products with low and no products by those drinking above low-risk levels” and “to facilitate a shift in the market from sales and promotion of alcoholic products towards low and no alternatives.”

The WSTA has stated that it believes that these aims can’t be achieved without amendments to current descriptors, including increasing the definition of alcohol free from 0.05% abv to 0.5% abv.

“Clarity and consistency of government descriptors are far more likely than punitive and muddled excise duty reforms to achieving the Government’s stated aim of growing the no and low drinks sector,” said Beale.

“While it’s stating the obvious it is absolutely vital that consumers understand what it is they are buying if they are going to support this small but growing segment of the market. If the Government wants to see a continued change in consumer behaviour it needs to work closely with the producers and retailers, where the expertise lies. 

 “We are encouraging DHSC to press on with the consultation and make the changes producers, retailers and consumers want, so they can get on with supporting the growth of low and no products.”