Bud Light rolls out big­ger nutri­tion la­bels

The Wichita Eagle - - Business - BY DEE-ANN DURBIN

Beer drinkers can’t claim bliss­ful ig­no­rance for much longer.

Start­ing next month, pack­ages of Bud Light will have promi­nent la­bels show­ing the beer’s calo­ries and in­gre­di­ents as well as the amount of fat, car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein in a serv­ing.

Bud Light is likely the first of many to make the move. The la­bels aren’t legally re­quired, but ma­jor beer mak­ers agreed in 2016 to vol­un­tar­ily dis­close nutri­tion facts on their prod­ucts by 2020.

Many brands, in­clud­ing Corona Light, Guin­ness, Heineken and Coors Light, al­ready have calo­ries and other nutri­tion in­for­ma­tion on their bot­tles or pack­ag­ing. But it’s in small type, or hid­den on the bot­tom of the six-pack, and in­gre­di­ents aren’t listed.

Bud Light went with a big, black-and-white la­bel, sim­i­lar to the ones re­quired by the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion on pack­aged foods. At the top, Bud Light lists its four in­gre­di­ents: water, bar­ley, rice and hops. Below that, it shows the calo­ries in a 12-ounce bot­tle or can (110) and other facts. Bud Light con­tains 2 per­cent of the rec­om­mended daily amount of car­bo­hy­drates, for ex­am­ple.

“We want to be trans­par­ent and give peo­ple the thing they are used to see­ing,” said Andy Goeler, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for Bud Light.

In­di­vid­ual bot­tles and cans of Bud Light won’t have the full la­bels, but they’ll con­tinue to have some nutri­tion in­for­ma­tion printed in small type.

Goeler said the brand’s re­search shows younger drinkers, in par­tic­u­lar, want to know what’s in their beer.

“They have grown up re­ally in tune to in­gre­di­ents,” he said.

Goeler said he didn’t know when other brands owned by Bud Light par­ent An­heuser-Busch – in­clud­ing Mich­e­lob and Stella Ar­tois – would adopt big­ger nutri­tion la­bels.

But the ques­tion is: Will such la­bels make a dif­fer­ence in the choices con­sumers make? At least one study sug­gests they won’t.

Re­searchers at Cor­nell Univer­sity and Louisiana State Univer­sity tracked what hap­pened when din­ers were given menus with calo­rie counts. It found that din­ers who knew the calo­rie counts or­dered lower-calo­rie ap­pe­tiz­ers and en­trees, but the calo­rie counts had lit­tle im­pact on or­ders for drinks and desserts.

John Caw­ley, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at Cor­nell and one of the au­thors of the study, said din­ers seemed to re­spond most to in­for­ma­tion they didn’t al­ready know. They were prob­a­bly sur­prised by the calo­ries in some ap­pe­tiz­ers, for ex­am­ple, but al­ready knew the gen­eral range for a glass of beer or wine.

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