Digital labeling for trust in the wine sector

David BECK Academic - Economics, Society and Political science - Environment and Technologies (AI, blockchain)

New specific labeling rules applicable to wine and aromatised wine products will be adopted by the EU institutions in fall 2021, in the framework of the reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These new labeling measures will require wine and aromatized wine products to communicate, on a mandatory basis, the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration either on the label or through a digital support.

All wines and aromatised wine products commercialised in the EU market will have to communicate the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration per 100 ml.

The new mandatory information can be communicated to consumers either directly on the physical label of the product or electronically, through a digital label (e-label). In case the nutrition declaration is provided digitally, the energy value of the product should appear on the label. If the list of ingredients is provided digitally, a reference to the allergenic substances should be maintained on the label.

Read also Big Data in Retailing

U-Label platform to go live on 1st December 2021

An e-label is a dedicated webpage compiling structured information on a precise product, for a specific market. The e-label is made available to consumers through a unique QR-code printed on the back-label of the product. By scanning the QR-code with a smartphone, consumers are directly led to the e-label of the product they have scanned, in the appropriate language, defined through geo-localisation.

For wine and aromatized wine products, each e-label contains a set of mandatory indications imposed by EU legislation and some voluntary indications that the company may decide to add or not. Mandatory indications include basic product characteristics (name, image, product category, country of provenance), the list of ingredients, the nutritional declaration, a pictogram warning against drinking during pregnancy and a generic message about responsible consumption.

In addition to these (mandatory) indications, companies may decide to provide extra information such as additional product characteristics (regulated under EU law), nutrition declaration per portion, other health warning pictograms or messages, sustainability certificates and recycling information as well as basic information about the company (name, logo and website).
The e-label does not contain any type of marketing information and users of the e-label will not receive targeted advertisements after scanning QR-codes generated with the U-Label platform.

U-label, created by professional bodies

U-label is an e-label platform that enables consumers across Europe to access information via QR code technology about the wine and spirits products they purchase, in their own language. U-LABEL is made possible thanks to CEEV and SpiritsEUROPE, the representative professional bodies of the EU industry and trade in wines and spirits.

U-label offers an environment that allows companies to easily start building their digital information strategy and provide relevant and accurate information to their consumers:

  • Integrated expertise on EU legal requirements for wine, aromatised wine products labeling;
  • Automatic translation of all structured information into 24 EU languages. Any free text that is manually entered by the user, however, will not be automatically translated by the system, but can be manually translated by the user in any EU language when reviewing the different linguistic versions of the e-label;
  • Instantly adaptable content;
  • Complete autonomy for companies to create new e-labels and manage existing e-labels. The content of an e-label can be modified at any time through the company’s U-label account. Once saved, the changes are instantly implemented and visible to any consumer scanning the QR-code corresponding to this e-label.

The U-label platform currently allows to create e-labels for products marketed in the EU only. These e-labels are fully compliant with EU legislation and can be made available to consumers in all official languages of the EU thanks to the automatic translation feature of the platform.

Once subscribed to the platform, any company can start creating e-labels for wine, aromatised wine or spirits drinks products. Information on the product can be inserted either manually by following the step-by-step process, or automatically by absorbing information from an existing database (GS1). Whichever the input mode, companies can enter as little or as much optional information as they wish and decide which indications to show on the final e-label.

How much does it cost to use the U-label platform?
Creation of new e-labels (up to)20100Unlimited
Maintenance of existing e-labels (up to)60200Unlimited
Annual cost (VAT excluded)250 €600 €2.500 €

How does the U-label platform work for consumers?

By scanning the QR code printed on the back-label of a bottle with a smartphone, consumers are directly led to the corresponding e-label, in their own language thanks to geo-localisation. Consumers may manually switch, at any time, to any other available language.

In case the language corresponding to the geo-localisation of the consumer has not been activated by the company when creating the e-label, the e-label will be displayed by default in the original language of creation of the e-label.

Accessing e-labels on the U-label platform is free of charge and does not require the consumer to subscribe to the platform or create any account whatsoever.

Consumers are not tracked when viewing an e-label on the U-label platform. Their geographical position, however, is determined, in order to ensure them the best possible experience and direct them to the appropriate linguistic version of the e-label.

Fight counterfeit with blockchain technology

The food and drink supply chain is vulnerable to counterfeit and fraud. The wine industry specifically is opaque due to a lack of knowledge and high fragmentation within the system. With blockchain as a ledger where no one has direct control nor is able to manipulate the data. This makes for a strong and incorruptible source of data. Blockchain offers a transparent and secure way to digitally track asset ownership, especially in fragmented systems where there is need for a chain of custody and command. I believe blockchain provides transparency, accountability and trust.

Chainvine is a digital platform that manages supply chain data across different industries in a highly secure manner. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) decentralises data across a network of ‘nodes’ which stores transactional data permanently in the cloud on a  blockchain.

Chainvine’s platform uses Distributed Ledger Technology, blockchain and Internet of Things (IOT) to reduce friction in international trade:

  • Simplifying the importation process;
  • Ensuring fiscal and regulatory compliance;
  • Reducing opportunities for fraud.

With blockchain tracing every step in the journey a bottle of wine makes, consumers have access to knowledge about the authenticity of what they buy. Suppliers and distributors can better protect themselves through greater transparency and accountability. This technology cuts out the cost incurred from relying on intermediaries that will ensure compliance in the supply chain.