Voluntary Labeling Better than Mandates
After posting my Washington Times op-ed on wine-labeling mandates yesterday, I came across Diageo’s–the premium drinks company–press release that highlights the company’s support for “voluntary nutrition labeling.”
As I conclude in my op-ed: alcohol producers should have the freedom to include any information on their labels that they desire, except fraudulent claims. That includes nutrition and other health-related information. But unlike Diageo, activist groups are calling on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to require specific information, rather than allow firms more freedom in labeling.
There’s a big difference between the two. Market-driven labeling allows each company to provide the information that best meets their consumers’ desires, and it enables companies to modify the information as consumer demands change. Market competition rewards firms that offer consumers what they want most. Mandates lock everyone into a nonsensical, one-size-fits-all approach. And once codified into law, even the most misguided regulations are very hard to change.