By Stephanie
12 Apr 2024
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Everything you need to know about digital labels for wine bottles

Since 8 November 2023, the wine and spirits industry has been shaken up by new European Union regulations. From that date, producers will have to display the composition of their products.

While food products have been subject to this rule for decades, it was only in 2017 that the European Commission looked into the matter, declaring that the wine industry could not aspire to a “free pass”. Following several years of debate, new regulations were adopted at the end of 2023.

What do these regulations involve? 

This new decision, known as EU Regulation 2021/2117, stipulates that all wines falling within the scope of the regulation, based on the date of production or import, must include compulsory details of ingredients, allergens, energy and nutritional information. This applies to the 2024 vintage.

However, two different rules apply. Information on allergens and intolerances will have to be displayed physically on or with the bottle, while ingredients and nutritional information can be displayed physically or virtually using a digital (or electronic) label (QR code, 2D / 1D code or RFID) on the product label, which will link to an information page showing the composition. For online sales, it will now be compulsory to include information about the product available for purchase. 

What happens in case of non-compliance?  

Wines and spirits that do not comply with the regulations will be withdrawn from the European market. They may also be subject to sanctions in accordance with the law, the application of which will depend on each Member State. In addition, electronic labels must contain only information about the product, such as ingredients, allergens, etc… Any electronic label containing data for marketing or sales purposes is prohibited. 

Wines and spirits produced before the regulation came into force are not subject to this rule and may continue to be sold. The rule only applies to goods produced after this date. 

What is the objective? 

As in the food sector, the aim of these new regulations is to reduce consumers’ misinformation. There needs to be greater transparency so that buyers can compare products and make an informed choice. It also ensures that the information is reliable and up to date, since the data comes directly from the producer or the certifying body.

Another reason, and certainly one of the most important, is traceability. It will now be easier to monitor a product and recall it if is potentially unfit for consumption for whatever reasons. 

This is a major step forward for consumer safety and information, and, the digitization of labels in the wine sector could potentially be extented to the agri-food sector.

Towards new applications for electronic labels ? 

Barbara Lasiello, senior market manager for wines and spirits at GS1 France, explains: "Wines will be the first food product to be able to share its regulatory information via an electronic label. This could open up new possibilities for other sectors."

The introduction of electronic labels for wines, which will be potentially extended to the agri-food sector, and the implementation of the new digital product passport (DPP), demonstrate the authorities’ determination to strengthen product traceability and consumer information. Producers and distributors are advised to start implementing these measures within their own organisations as soon as possible. 

Paragon ID, a leader in secure identification solutions and a member of GS1, already supplies its customers with barcode and QR code labels, as well as NFC and RAIN RFID labels. We can advise you on the technology best suited to your business and processes.

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