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Boost for UK wine industry as government set to scrap EU red tape

Ministers say that plans to cut regulations on the production and marketing of wine will deliver a £180-million boost to the industry.

Under the raft of changes, wines with Protected Designation of Origin status will be given the freedom to use a wider range of vines – including more disease-resistant varieties – which the Government said will allow farmers to choose varieties that work for them and reduce vine loss due to disease.

At the same time, expensive and cumbersome packaging requirements will be removed, such as ending the mandatory requirement that certain sparkling wines must have foil caps and mushroom stoppers.

Reforms will be made to importer labelling and wine certification, which the Government said would cut bureaucracy and costs for producers.

The rules will be changed to allow imported wine to be blended, carbonated, sweetened and de-alcoholised, which will create more product lines for the UK market and provide drinkers with more choice.

Regulations will also change to permit the production and marketing of low and no alcohol wines, which have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Hailing the changes, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “The UK has over 800 thriving vineyards at home and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of wine trade going through UK ports every year.

“But for too long our producers have been held back by cumbersome inherited EU regulations. We will give them the freedom they need to thrive.

She added: “These reforms will put a rocket under our winemakers’ businesses – growing the economy, creating jobs and supporting a vital part of our food and drink sector.”

The announcement will be seen as an attempt by the Government to reignite enthusiasm for its Retained EU Law Bill.

Earlier this month, the Government provoked the ire of Brexiteers by watering down the bill.

The changes were backed by the wine industry. Miles Beale, the chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “We welcome the range of measures proposed today, many of which we have proposed publicly.

“By introducing greater flexibility, wine producers and importers won’t be forced to do anything differently but will be able to innovate.

“Allowing businesses bringing bulk wine into GB to be able to blend, will benefit importers, bottlers – and ultimately consumers while labelling changes will allow a common back label to be used in both EU and UK markets, maintaining the UK as an attractive market for all producers – large and small.”

The Government said it would shortly be launching a consultation on the proposed changes.

The reforms, as proposed by the UK government on May 21, read as follows: 

  • Importer labelling – Remove a requirement that imported wines must show an importer rather than a Food Business Operator on the label. This will reduce costs and bureaucracy for consumers.
  • Hybrid grape varieties – Wine with Protected Designation of Origin permitted to use a wider choice of vine varieties that are more disease resistant. This will enable farmers to choose the variety that works best for them and reduce vine loss due to disease.
  • Piquette – Allow producers to make and market piquette from their wine production by-products. This will open up new income streams for wine producers.
  • Blending wine – Allow imported wine to be blended in market. This will boost our domestic industries by enabling the production of new product lines.
  • Foil caps and mushroom stoppers – Remove the mandatory requirement that certain sparkling wines must have these to be marketed in UK This will mean less cost for producers and more choice for consumers.
  • Wine Certification Scheme – Allow any wine to show a variety and vintage without having to apply for the right to do so. This will reduce bureaucracy and cost for producers and enable new products to reach our shelves more quickly.
  • Transformation of wine sector products – Allow imported wine sector to be carbonated, sweetened, de-alcoholised in market. This will enable our industry to create more product lines for the UK market/tastes and give consumers more choice.
  • Low and No alcohol wine – Permit the production and marketing of low and no alcohol wines. Given the growing popularity of low and no alcohol wine, this will mean more flexibility for domestic producers and greater choice for consumers.

Source: The Telegraph

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