War On Sugar

Or How Tesco Continue to be Stupid

Ribena and Capri Sun feel the full ridiculous wrath of Tesco this week. Then Tesco feel the Blogfather's wrath. Lots of wrath. A raft of Wrath.

I had arrived back in the office after a lovely break, refreshed, chipper and with a somewhat Zen view on the world.

That lasted until 9.17am, when I read an article on the ‘War on Sugar’. More specifically, Tesco has banned Ribena and Capri Sun product from its stores, in the name of the ‘War on Sugar’.

It all seems a little over the top, if only in terms of the war rhetoric. I assumed some dodgy dossier of weapons of mass destruction had been compiled; a surface-to-air missile launcher, fully loaded with oversized 30ft Wham Rockets had been found via a spy satellite pointing at the curious, canvas covered object in Willy Wonka’s back garden.

In all fairness, it is a very valid social problem. This is a compelling stat: One 330ml pouch of Capri-Sun orange juice drink contains 33g of sugar, nearly double the daily amount recommended by the NHS for four to six-year-olds.

Any company whose product is sugar based is coming under increasing pressure to reduce sugar content. Ribena, the iconic British brand in existence since 1938, and Capri Sun have a strong marketing association with childhood, but even for them it will be tough to adapt to the changing social environment. A casual look at Ribena’s website reveals that Ribena are certainly doing their bit for helping children be more healthy, so it seems harsh that they have been singled out.

Will sweets get banned? Will you only be able to get unbranded packets of fruit pastilles from behind the counter in the year 2035? It all seems a little too much.

"Wow. Tesco has cured obesity by banning Capri Sun and Ribena. The ONLY two causes of obesity. What a time to be alive." @OliverAge24

Tesco is leading the battle for the forces of good verses the evil sugar. They’ve got bored of playing The Empire and have gone Republic. They proudly state that last year they removed some 3 billion calories from their stores, whilst privately adding 250 million fictitious pounds to their accounts. The last thing Tesco needs is more negative PR and their morals and scruples questioned, but it seems a little bizarre that they still continue to sell cigarettes and cheap booze whilst doing away with the Capri Sun.

It’s a quite draconian attempt to cut off a problem at source. This tweet, amongst yet another social media anti-Tesco outcry, sums up perfectly the questionable nature of the decision:

"Wow. Tesco has cured obesity by banning Capri Sun and Ribena. The ONLY two causes of obesity. What a time to be alive." @OliverAge24

It’s a tough balance, as clearly they need to rebuild their reputation and are trying the promoting healthy living route, but rather than looking to educate those parents who pack their kids’ lunch boxes with sugary stuff, Tesco are effectively saying their own customers cannot really be trusted to make informed decisions. Treating a customer like a fool is a fundamental mistake brands can make.

Tesco-bashing is in danger of becoming a national pastime, so in the name of balanced opinion, we should remember they did well to get involved with the Government’s healthy living drive Change4Life, specifically the ‘Sugar Swaps’ campaign back in January. In a campaign by M&C Saatchi featuring a great video from Aardman Animations, the key to this was suggesting healthy alternatives to sugar, not banning product.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” - Oscar Wilde

I went to see Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest whilst away, and a quote from the great man is pertinent by way of a sign off here: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

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