The supermarket will start by adding the number of calories found in a small 125ml glass of wine to 20 of its own-brand bottles from this week. Sainsbury’s said it would expand the initiative further through this year and 2015.
The move comes after research conducted by the supermarket found that 85 per cent of consumers did not know how many calories the average glass of wine contained, while almost two-thirds (63 per cent) did not take wine into account when calculating calorie intake.
A further 66 per cent of consumers said they would be interested in seeing calorie counts on alcohol. Almost half (44 per cent) say they try to cut down on drinking to manage their weight.
Helen Buck, chair of Sainsbury’s responsible drinking steering group, says: “It is clear from our research that shoppers are confused regarding the calories in alcohol. We hope that by clearly displaying this information on the bottle, we’ll be able to help our customers to make responsible choices more easily.”
Sainsbury’s is the first of the big four supermarkets to introduce calorie counts to wine. The Co-op has included calorie information on alcoholic drinks since 2002, while Waitrose also has per-glass calorie counts on its own-brand wines.
Morrisons says it has no plans to follow suit after its research found that people who are on a diet might look to stronger drinks such as vodka if they knew how many calories were in a glass of wine. Asda says it does not currently display calorie information while did not respond to requests for comment before this article was published.
Alcohol education charity Drinkaware has welcomed Sainsbury’s move, saying that a lack of awareness over how many calories alcohol contains can hamper people’s efforts to lose weight. The charity says that a large 250ml glass of wine with 13 per cent alcohol by volume contains 228 calories, which it claims is almost as many calorie as pure fat. The number goes up as alcohol percentage increases.
Elaine Hindal, chief executive at Drinkaware, says: “We support any initiative that educates people about the calories in alcoholic drinks. This highlights the importance of helping people realise just how many calories are in their glass, so they can make an informed choice about how much they drink.”
Public health minister Jane Ellison is also backing Sainsbury’s move and urging other supermarkets to follow suit.
“The use of calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks is a key way the industry can help support responsible drinking,” she adds.
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