IN AN Australian beer industry first, the nation's leading brewer, Lion, will add nutrition information panels to bottles and cartons across its entire wholly-owned Australian beer portfolio - meaning 887 million bottles of beer will carry helpful information on sugar, preservative, calorie (kilojoule) and carbohydrate content every year, starting from right now.
The new labelling is the first stage of a long-term initiative called 'Beer the Beautiful Truth', designed to bust common myths about beer and communicate the facts - among them, that Lion's wholly-owned Australian beers are preservative-free and most are on average 99.9% sugar-free.
The voluntary initiative, which complements existing standard drinks and pregnancy labelling, was informed by consumer research showing 87% of Aussies don't know what goes into beer, and 73% want more information on the beers they drink.
Matt Tapper, Marketing Director of Lion's Australian beer business says: "Despite the fact beer is still the drink of choice for most Australians, our knowledge of how it's made and what's in it is pretty patchy.
"Most people think beer is full of sugar and preservatives, when in actual fact our beers are preservative-free and most are on average 99.9% sugar-free.
"We want to fill in the gaps for beer drinkers."
Lion's research shows that when it comes to their favourite tipple Australians want to know about sugar (76%), carbohydrates (52%) and calories (47%).
Mr Tapper says: "Positively, 7 in 10 also say that if this information was available it would help them make more informed drinking choices - such as choosing an option with a lower sugar, carb or calorie content, or moderating their alcohol intake.
"Labelling transparency is not only an important first step in educating people about beer, but also in supporting them to make more informed choices about what and how they choose to drink.
"This builds on Lion's continued investment over more than two decades in the light and mid strength categories of the beer market, with lower strength options now accounting for close to 1 in 4 beers consumed in Australia- providing plenty of choice for those looking to moderate alcohol consumption, without sacrificing flavour."
The initiative is the first of its scale in Australia and will also include a communications program to broaden drinkers' knowledge. The new labelling will initially roll out on Lion's biggest beer brands, including XXXX, Tooheys, Hahn, James Squire and a range of smaller brands, covering more than 90 per cent of the brewer's total owned beer volume. The remaining wholly-owned Australian beers will be updated over the coming months.
"Rest assured, this is about providing the facts about our beers, not about changing the beers themselves," finished Mr Tapper.