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Stephanie Casstevens

By: Stephanie Casstevens on August 12th, 2016

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DataBite: Transparency is Brewing in the Beer Industry


Many beer brewers are now going to voluntarily include a serving facts statement on their products. The new labels will still include alcohol by volume but will also now list calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and include a freshness date. They’ll also be disclosing ingredients in a full list on the label or on a website accessible via a scannable code on the packaging. This is a result of the Beer Institute’s Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative announced in July. 


Image via Bookfinch

Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative

Adding serving facts to the most popular alcoholic beverage in the United States is a huge step toward empowering consumer choice and promoting transparency. Beer industry leaders, which together produce 81% of the volume of beer sold in the U.S., have already agreed to follow the new standards put forth by the Beer Institute. These brands include Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA, and North American Breweries, among others. The Craft Brew Alliance also plans to participate. This means soon more than eight out of every ten beers sold will be in compliance with these standards.


According to the Beer Institute, brewers and importers should plan to implement new labels on cans and bottles by the end of 2020. The specifics of the initiative, according to the Beer Institute, are:

  1. To provide calorie, carbohydrate, protein, fat and ABV information on all labels in the form of a serving facts statement consistent with federal guidelines.
  2. To disclose ingredients in products either on the label or secondary packaging via a  list of all ingredients, a reference to a website, or a QR code.
  3. To clearly display a freshness date or date of production on all labels or primary containers.

Transparency is Brewing

Consumers continue to demand transparency and this demand is driving changes in the industry. Among them is the new law that makes GMO labeling mandatory. Though this new law doesn’t apply to alcoholic beverages, it still reinforces that the demand for transparency isn’t slowing down. As consumers continue to demand transparency from the brands they choose for food and personal care items, why not from alcoholic beverages too? It's exciting to see beer manufacturers stepping up to lead the charge.  

What can our database currently tell us about beer?

We currently have just over 7,500 beer products in our database. Of these, based on the information available, 31% are listed as having no trans fat. Beyond that, there isn't currently a lot else we can glean. Since most beers currently don't have an ingredient list or nutrition facts, this isn't surprising. It will be very exciting to look back at our database in the future and see how this changes as more beers disclose more information about what is in their products and how they're produced. Then, we can build the story around the ingredients used in these beers and better empower consumers to make informed choices. By having all this information, layered with point-of-sale data, brands and retailers can more accurately discover exactly what factors are driving performance.

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