#RibenaGate: Tesco to stop selling children’s drinks with added sugar, including Capri Sun and Ribena
Capri Sun and Ribena are among the popular brands affected by the decision.
Consumers, however, have been quick to criticise the move, saying that a ban on certain drinks will not solve the UK’s childhood obesity, particularly when other sugary foods and drinks remain on shelves.
Tesco, the biggest supermarket in the UK and the world’s third largest supermarket group, will introduce the policy in the UK in September as the new academic year starts.
Tesco’s sugar crusade: from sweets to soft drinks
Tesco has already made a commitment to reduce the sugar content of its own-brand soft drinks by 5%, and was the first major retailer to remove sweets and chocolate from checkouts in its stores.
Its next step is to remove all added-sugar children’s soft drinks in lunchbox sizes.
A Tesco spokesperson said it wants to help its customers make healthier choices and continues to cut sugar from food and drink on the shelves.
“As of September, all children’s juice drinks we sell will have no added sugar in them because we know it will make a positive difference to children’s health,” the spokesperson said.
While original Capri Sun and Ribena varieties will no longer be stocked, no added sugar versions can remain on shelves. Larger bottle sizes, including full-sugar, will also continue to be sold.
“The range of Ribena RTD and squash products offer choice by providing No Added Sugar products,” said Hannah Norbury, Ribena marketing director.
“We see no added sugar products as crucial to our entire portfolio. In order to ensure Ribena No Added Sugar is available to consumers on the kids’ fixture at Tesco, we will have No Added Sugar flavours available in multipack cartons.”
Coca-Cola Enterprises (which distributes Capri Sun) said it was not commenting on Tesco’s policy.
Ribena is the top juice drink brand in the UK, according to Nielsen data. With the popular drink a household name, the sales ban has caused a stir among consumers on Twitter.
Consumers have been quick to point out that other soft drinks are not subject to the same policy while scorning the implication that removing Ribena from shelves will solve the UK’s obesity crisis.
They also point to the impact on consumer choice.
The hashtags #savemyribena and #ribenagate have been trending on Twitter.
Will aspartame cause concern?
With artificial sweeteners a cause for concern among some consumers – does Tesco worry that its new portfolio will lose it customers?
“Aspartame is approved for use in the European Union and any product containing it is clearly labelled,” responded Tesco. “Following a thorough review of evidence, in May 2011 the European Food Safety Authority has ruled out any potential risk of aspartame.”
'More needs to be done'
UK campaign group Action on Sugar has welcomed Tesco's move and wants to see other retailers look at similar policies.
"This [decision] will have an impact but more needs to be done," a spokesperson told BeverageDaily.com. "We would very much like to see other sugary food and drink categories in Tesco do something similar and, more importantly, for all the other retailers to take on this challenge right away.
"I think it is likely that other retailers will follow suit."
What about other soft drinks?
Tesco confirmed to BeverageDaily.com that sales soft drinks like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Fanta and Sprite will not be affected by the new policy.
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