Orthodox gin distillers say that juniper should be its main flavor. The U.K Gin Guild however says it’s okay if craft makers introduce other flavors like toffee.
Then, there is a second rule. And that is the problem.
If a beverage is labeled gin, it has to be no less than 37.5% alcohol by volume in the U.K. and 40% in the U.S. The head of the Gin Guild likes to say that, “If it’s not gin in the bottle, a brand should not put gin on the bottle.”
Gin now has botanical flavors. It could have a hint of Brussels sprouts or fresh cream and beef. Mixed with tonic, it might change its hue. All that is okay if it has the alcohol content. Otherwise the U.K.’s big gin makers are ready to go to court.
Doesn’t the gin dispute sound familiar?
Cauliflower Rice Law
Farmers in Arkansas object to cauliflower ice. When a rice farmer who was also a state legislator bought some and tasted it, he decided the label had to be banned. So, during March, Arkansas legislators prohibited the cauliflower rice name from all food labels in the state. Saying that the word rice has to refer to actual rice, the law included a $1,000 fine for a “mislabeled” product.
Missouri has a similar law that refers to products labeled meat that do not come from a cow, a chicken, or some other creature that has two or four legs. Contested in court (with no decision scheduled) by the Missouri ACLU and other opponents, the law limits what Tofurky can say on its label. (I should note here that in the Missouri case, Tofurky cited an Arkansa court decision in which a similar law was banned. I could not discover if that ban included cauliflower rice.)
The Almond Milk Law
And, yes, dairy farmers also went to court. Here, the 9th Circuit said that a “reasonable consumer” knew the difference between almond milk and cow’s milk. Blue Diamond Growers would not be required to say “imitation milk” on their labels.
Our Bottom Line: Competition
Gin distillers share the worry of trendy competition with rice, poultry, and dairy farmers. Whether we are talking about non-alcoholic gin, cauliflower rice, Tofurky, or almond milk, we can ask if we have an oxymoron that should be prohibited.
However, distillers are also rather different from farmers. They tend to be larger firms with market power that smaller farmers don’t have. Reflecting the disparity in their pricing power, size, and ease of market entry and exit, they are located rather far from each other on a competitive market structure continuum:
Still, neither is pleased with trendy new labels.
My sources and more: Reading the Wall Street Journal article about gin labels reminded me of so many other similar situations. While we had looked at the Missouri ban several years ago, I did find an update but still no final court decision So, I returned to this econlife.