What’s In My Beer?

In a move to “elevate transparency,” American beer brand Bud Light has announced that beginning in February, it will list beer ingredients and nutritional information on-pack. This will make Bud Light “the first US beer to include comprehensive details for ingredients and serving facts directly on packaging.”

Specifically, information listed on the packaging will include: 

  • Ingredients 
  • Serving size 
  • Calories 
  • Total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat 
  • Carbohydrates 
  • Sugars 
  • Protein 

This information is currently not required to appear on beer labels in the United States. By choosing to disclose this data, the makers of Bud Light are moving the beer industry towards greater transparency—but more progress can still be made.  

Building a reputation for transparency 

Introduced in 1982, Bud Light is today one of the top-selling beers in the US. As a light, affordable lager and a legacy brand of parent company AB InBev, Bud Light is not traditionally associated with change and innovation.  

However, AB InBev has set out to change that. The company has recently established itself as a leader in achieving more transparent and sustainable supply chains. In particular, AB InBev has set several sustainability objectives for 2025, including: 

  • 100% of purchased electricity to come from renewal sources 
  • 100% of products will be in packaging that is returnable or made from majority recycled content 
  • 100% of their communities in high-stress areas will have measurably improved water availability and quality. 

AB InBev has even developed a more sustainable workaround for one step of the brewing process, which the company estimates will cut its global carbon emissions by 5% once fully implemented. The company has clearly made transparency a critical part of its operations.  

 

Transparency for all 

AB InBev’s Bud Light labeling initiative is a smart move. Not only does it fit their strategic plan to increase corporate transparency, but it also may help ward off competition from premium beer brands and the booming craft beer industry. After a somewhat disappointing US performance in 2018, legacy beers such as Bud Light need to do something to stand out in the ever-increasing market. Hops  

Bud Light may seem like a surprising choice for this labeling initiative; more expensive premium beers or trendier craft beers may seem a better fit. But the fact that such a major beer brand is addressing transparency points to a changing market. Transparency is no longer a niche concern: nearly all consumers now want more information about the products they buy. By providing ingredients and nutrition information for such a popular beer, AB InBev is both acknowledging new consumer expectations and setting a new standard for alcoholic beverages. 

The future of the beer industry 

While ingredients and nutrition are a good first step, consumers are hungry for even more information. A 2018 report by The Consumer Goods Forum and Futerra found that seventy percent of global consumers are interested in product transparency, which not only ingredients but also the social, health, environment, and safety credentials of the products they buy. Fifty-five percent of these consumers also think that products today do not provide enough transparency. Clearly, the opportunity still exists for brands to do more.  

So what’s next? Perhaps beer brands and other alcoholic beverage companies will begin to answer questions already being tackled in other industries: Where did the grains come from? Were they grown using sustainable practices? Are they organic or GMO-free? Were the farmers paid a living wage?  

Transparency-One can help businesses discover the answers to these questions and more by identifying, digitizing, and mapping their end-to-end supply chains. With this knowledge, brands can go beyond providing an ingredients list and discover valuable information about the suppliers, facilities, and production conditions involved in their supply chains. From sustainability to safety to social responsibility, the sky is the limit.  

©  Transparency One

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