MillerCoors' brand falls in US caffeine crackdown

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Beer

MillerCoors has become the latest brewer to bow to pressure from authorities after voluntarily agreeing to reformulate its caffeinated beer products amidst wider national crackdowns on stimulant beverages.

Health concerns continue to be raised over the consumption of added caffeine beer products in the US as well as other international markets.

Amidst these concerns, MillerCoors, a joint venture between the Miller Brewing Company and Molson Coors US and Puerto Rican operations, said it would cease production of caffeinated alcohol beverages by early next year.

The brewer’s decision to remove caffeine, taurine, guarana and ginseng from its Sparks brand of beers follows consultation with US attorneys general (AG).

Health advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which sued the brewer back in September over its role in manufacturing and distributing caffeinated energy drinks, said it hoped smaller companies would now follow suite.

Reformulating rivals

The reformulation comes after rival Anheuser-Busch announced back in June that it was removing the same ingredients from its malt beverage brands like Tilt and Bud Extra amidst pressure from consumer organisations.

Miller, which has been selling the Sparks alcohol brand nationwide since 2006, said at the time that it would not be reviewing its strategy over the manufacture of caffeinated alcohol due to strong potential in the market.

However, while the brewer will continue to sell its current inventory of the product, the company says it will stop making caffeinated alcohol products by 10 January 2009 and sell a new reformulated version of Sparks instead.

Tom Long, chief commercial officer for MillerCoors, claimed that although the group’s advertising and production had not been unlawful, it had decided to act on the concerns of the AGs.

“While we have listened closely to the AGs and respect their position, we strongly disagree with their inaccurate allegations about the marketing and sale of Sparks,”​ Long stated. “The Sparks brand has been responsibly marketed only to legal drinking age consumers.”

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