Rye Field

Consumers’ concern about how food and drink impacts their health has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. These concerns include persistent questions about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and suggests that non-GMO ingredients remain a strong differentiator for people interested in consuming products they consider ‘healthier’. In fact, a 2020 Lightfoot/Mintel survey of 2,000 U.S. residents over age 18 found that 47% believe non-GMO foods are healthier than foods containing genetically- modified ingredients.

In another report for the “weight nutrition sector” Mintel (October 2021) found that many consumers are interested in products with ‘natural’ ingredients, leading to this insight that also applies to distilled spirits: “Brands can give their formulas a more ‘natural’ appeal by using botanical actives and GMO-free or organic ingredients.

Non-GMO food and drink are experiencing growing demand in Europe, where distrust of products made with genetically-modified ingredients has driven consumer and regulatory trends for two decades. In distilled spirits, the trend is especially noticeable with whiskeys. In the United States, non-GMO spirits may be associated with ultra-premium brands and a distinction for craft distillers.

Creating verified non-GMO distilled spirits requires adherence to strict guidelines. According to the Non-GMO Project Verification Guide, there are “risk inputs” in alcohol products, from “fermentation media” or crops used to product alcohol, including corn; “added ingredients” including flavors and coloring added after fermentation; and “microorganisms” that include yeast and enzymes.

The Non-GMO Project also states that while it does not “prohibit use of the verification mark on alcohol products, some participants may find that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), prevents non-GMO claims on their products when sold in the United States. This restriction does not impact all alcohol products sold in the U.S., just products that are subject to TTB regulations.”

The TTB cautions against associating alcohol products and health claims. https://www.ttb.gov/images/newsletters/archives/2020/ttb-newsletter08142020.html

Need a partner to help you navigate strict sourcing and handling guidelines to bring non-GMO spirits to market? Current non-GMO offerings are rye whiskey and Grain Neutral Spirits. Learn more about our products here: https://www.mgpingredients.com/distilled-spirits/beverage/product