Northern Irish brewers and distillers have voiced concerns about the proposed changes to alcohol labelling being debated in the Republic of Ireland, and that if those changes are put into place it could effect the growth of the sector, especially for smaller producers.
Under the Ireland Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, one of the proposed changes would see mandatory health warnings on alcohol labels, with warnings, ingredients and calories taking up to a third of the label.
Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster warned the proposed changes could cause “a significant impediment to the growth” especially for smaller producers.
He went on to say that the Republic of Ireland is a key export market for the majority of Northern Ireland’s alcohol producers and that is is important for all parties to “ensure that they do not create new barriers to trade on the island of Ireland”.
Northern Ireland has seen a big resurgence of craft alcohol producers over the last few years, with over 40 new breweries and distilleries producing alcohol. Jarlath Watson, from Echlinville Distillery in County Down talked about the proposal, stating that having to comply with a new labelling requirement would “deliver a major upheaval to our production systems costing time and money”.
For the last three years the Irish Government has been trying to pass a public health law targeted at alcohol, and wants to introduce a range of measures including a minimum unit price and restriction on the marketing of alcohol to the public.
Independent Senator Francis Black, who supports the proposal said that the alcohol industry is opposed to the legislation because it could effect their profits but that if the measures saved just one life then it would be worth it.