Industry figures respond to Alcohol Bill

Wine imports and the overall effectiveness of the Bill are still unclear as vote passes in Dail
Wine imports and the overall effectiveness of the Bill are still unclear as vote passes in Dail

Despite final passage of Bill, questions still remain for ramifications in the industry

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9 October 2018 | 0

The much-talked-about Alcohol Bill was passed in the Dáil this week, confirming that cancer warning labels – among other measures – would be legally required on all alcohol beverages in Ireland in the near future. However, key figures in Ireland’s drinks industry have said that confusion still remains in Ireland’s industry, as to what non-compliance with the law will look like, and whether the new measures will have the desired effect.

Patricia Callan, director of the ABFI, said that while the Federation supports the government’s efforts in the area of alcohol misuse, the measures in the Bill will likely not be effective in this area, and possibly may contravene EU regulations.

“No other country in the world requires mandatory cancer warning labels,” Callan said, “and imposing such a label will cause substantial reputational damage to our quality products by applying a stigma to products made in Ireland.

“Furthermore,” she continued, “focusing on one health issue alone (cancer) does not give a full or accurate picture to help consumers make an informed choice about their drinking.”

Meanwhile, Kevin O’Mahony, commerical director for drinks industry supplier Barry & Fitzwilliam, said while he supports the spirit of the bill, the nature of wine and spirits sales means that there is a very large grey area regarding older stock and the new cancer warning labels.

“We would have wine stock in our bonded warehouse that we’ve bought and don’t intend to sell for another four or five years,” he says. “At this point in time, we don’t know what these labels are supposed to look like, the size, and more. My understanding is that in three years, it will become illegal to sell alcohol without these Ireland-specific labels.

“Does this mean our wines without the labels will be unsellable? One or two of our suppliers are already saying ‘you know what, I’m not going to supply you with these labels’, because the cost to the manufacturer is too high. Some of them are already saying ‘you want me to what?'”

So while the Bill is now officially going to become law, there are still big questions to be asked and the debate is far from over!

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