Emerging Export Market: Non-Alcoholic Beverage Imports

Emerging Export Market: Non-Alcoholic Beverage Imports

You may have noticed a few more drink options on restaurant menus and grocery and liquor store shelves; non-alcoholic beverages. Although long-standing brands have held these spots, never before have there been so many options. They are referred to as mocktails, zero-proof cocktails, and contain little to no alcohol within them but all the flavor of favorite bar go-tos. With so many of these businesses opening up shop in Canada, and increasing demand, exporting to the US may be the next step of your commercial growth strategy.

In this blog, we will take a look at importing zero-proof alcohol into the US and the factors that are used to determine eligibility and the requirements of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Importing Zero Proof Beverages

Importing beverages with zero alcohol is much like importing soda or bottled water. As with all imports into the US, importers of food products will need to adhere to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. 

Register With The FDA

Registering with the FDA as a food facility is a requirement for companies involved in the processing and production of food items. It’s no different for beverages. 

Registration provides the FDA with important information, including the location of the processing facility, types of activities conducted, and details about the products being imported. 

How To Import Food And Beverage Into The US

Pro Tip: A Dun & Bradstreet DUNS number is required for food facility registration.

It’s recommended that a foreign importer of beverages into the US work with a regulatory expert or agent who can provide detailed assistance based on your specific requirements. 

Once registered, renewals are required every two years going forward.

Comply With The Foreign Supplier Verification Program

As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), all goods importers into the US for human consumption must ensure they meet the same food safety standards as domestically made food. That is where the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) comes in.

The FSVP requires conducting specific steps and creating a written preventative control (safety) plan that includes:

  • Hazard analysis
  • Supplier assessments, audits, and/or third-party certifications
  • Verification activities, documentation, and record-keeping requirements
  • Onsite audits, sampling, testing, and reviewing of complaints
Are You In Compliance With The Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) Requirements?

When it comes to the actual import of beverages, specific information must be present on the US Customs Invoice in order to meet the FSVP import regulations. This information is shared with the FDA and includes:

  • FSVP Importer is (name of the US company)
  • FSVP Importer’s DUNS number
  • FSVP Importer’s contact email address

Pro Tip: The FSVP importer must be a US company (typically the US buyer of your goods) or a third-party US FSVP Agent (if there is no US buyer at the time of import) who agrees to take on the responsibilities of the FSVP importer.

Importing Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Importing beverages that meet non-alcoholic conditions must comply with all of the same regulations as zero-proof beverages, plus a few others detailed below.

Conditions Of Non-Alcoholic Claims

To be considered non-alcoholic in the eyes of US CBP and FDA, a beverage must remain under a certain alcohol strength per volume. 

A non-alcoholic beverage must contain 0.5% alcohol or less. 

US CBP And FDA Requirements

US Customs and the FDA will require a few more details on non-alcoholic beverages imports compared to mocktails or zero-proof drinks. Some of this information is used to determine if the HS Classification Code has been used properly, while the information for the FDA is used for release.

CBP will require the following information to ensure proper classification:

  1. Ingredients listed by percentage
  2. Alcoholic content 
  3. How the goods are packaged (type of container aluminum, plastic, etc.)
  4. Indication of beverage fermentation
  5. Indication of the beverage of carbonation

FDA will require the following information for clearance:

  1. Name and address of the manufacturer
  2. Name and address of bottling company
  3. If the beverage is (shelf stable) canned (Federal Canning Establishment (FCE) Number and Schedule Process Filing ID (SID) numbers from the bottling company for each type of beverage)
  4. Dimensions of the bottle or can to the 1/16th of an inch

The Ease Of Importing Mocktails

With the increase in demand of non-alcoholic beverages, increased imports are to be expected. It also is far less onerous to import these types of beverages in comparison to beverages exceeding 0.05% alcohol.

Comparatively speaking, importing craft beer into the US would require all of the above-noted steps, plus basic permits to import and Certificate of Label Approval (COLA), and will be subject to Federal Excise Tax.

How To Import Alcoholic Beverages Into The US

To learn more about importing non-alcoholic beverages into the US, join our webinar How To Import FDA Regulated Goods.

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About Author
Misty Gibbins

Misty has been working in the brokerage business for 36 years. She was the manager of the Blaine Office of Peace Bridge Customs Brokers for nine years, before coming to Pacific Customs Brokers Inc. US operation. Misty has worked in the trade compliance group at PCB for the past 13 years. She is currently the Senior Trade Regulatory Analyst, which involves keeping up with trade related regulatory changes.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.
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