Sugar-based energy drinks such as Monster or Red Bull, could be prohibited to either under 16s or under 18s under the Government’s June 2018 Childhood Obesity plan (England only) and there are also plans for new measures relating to foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).
The government is to launch at 12-week consultation on whether to set the ban at 16 or 18. Speaking during her Africa tour, the Prime Minister said: “With thousands of young people regularly consuming energy drinks, often because they are sold at cheaper prices than soft drinks, we will consult on banning the sale of energy drinks to children.
“It is vital that we do all we can to make sure children have the best start in life and I encourage everyone to put forward their views.”
Defending the industry, Energy Drinks Europe, which represents drinks manufacturers, said a 250ml can of energy drink contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee and as much sugar as that in juices and soft drinks. A spokesman added: “For all ages, there are much greater contributors of caffeine and sugar in the diet than energy drinks. A sales ban on energy drinks is therefore arbitrary, discriminatory and not effective.”
But marketers of drinks brands would do well to consider how the possible ban could impact their plans. Jeremy Stern, Managing Director of PromoVeritas, who oversees compliance for a lot of major brands, says that “Whether or not a ban is imposed, Marketers should recognise the sentiment behind the Governments statements and consider adjustments to their marketing strategies. This should cover the ages of those appearing in adverts, the overall tone of the advert and most importantly its placement- avoiding media where children make up a significant proportion of the audience. Retailers are already considering age verification at the point of sale. The days of reckless abandon for the new wave of soft drinks may be over”.