Energy labelling for alcoholic beverages in New Zealand (phase two): Impact on consumer purchase and consumption

12 Apr 2019

This randomised trial reports on the impact of different energy (kilojoules/calories) labels on consumers’ likelihood of buying and drinking alcoholic beverages.

A four-arm, parallel-group randomised trial was used to determine the impact of three different energy labels on alcoholic beverages, compared to a control that didn’t have energy information on the label. Other aspects of understanding and awareness of energy labelling were also covered.

The research found that none of the tested labels reduced the reported likelihood of participants buying or drinking alcoholic beverages. It also found that energy labels increased participants’ confidence in their ability to estimate energy content and their accuracy of calorie estimates, but had no impact on their perceived energy content of alcoholic beverages. Over half of participants agreed that energy labels should be displayed on alcoholic beverages. The preferred label placement was on the back of the bottle.

Information or labelling for consumers on its own will not result in significant change in alcohol consumption, but it is part of a package of interventions to reduce alcohol consumption and harm.

This research was undertaken by the National Institute of Health Innovation, University of Auckland, and is the second phase of a two-part research project. It built on the first phase that used focus groups to explore consumers’ awareness of energy in alcoholic beverages, their views on energy labelling on alcoholic beverages, and the effects of different types of energy labelling on likely purchase and consumption of alcohol. The phase one report can be found here.