LONDON—Diageo PLC is following the lead of the food industry by offering calorie counts and other content information on many of its biggest-selling products, from Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky to Smirnoff vodka.
The world’s biggest drinks company said Thursday that it would begin displaying per-serving nutrition and alcohol-content information on its labels and online, in what it said was a first for the industry.
That will include Guinness, which for much of the 20th century was marketed as “good for you” for its high iron content. Doctors even prescribed the stout to pregnant women.
The U.S. is likely to be the first market to see the new labels, which could hit the shelves in the next few months. Diageo has received approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for a “serving facts” panel to be added to its labels, with per-serving information on calories, fat content and alcohol by volume. Discussions with the bureau started nearly 10 years ago, according to a Diageo spokeswoman.
The first product to include the new label in the U.S. is likely to be Smirnoff, Diageo’s biggest-selling brand in North America.
Nutritional labeling on food is a hot topic in the U.S. as consumers become more health-conscious. Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration issued rules requiring restaurants with at least 20 locations to display the calorie count of food items on their menus.
Diageo said it would work with regulators globally to add the voluntary labels to its stable of products. The company will provide nutritional information on its website for all its brands.
Diageo also plans to roll out the new labels in Europe, although it doesn’t yet know when.
Current regulations in the European Union exempt alcoholic drinks from having to include nutritional information, although food products are required to provide details per 100-gram serving.
Ivan Menezes, Diageo’s chief executive, said including such information on alcohol based on customary serving sizes would help reduce misuse.
“We want to provide alcohol and nutrition information that consumers can quickly understand, instead of expecting them to do the math,” Mr. Menezes said.
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