A group, Concerned Consumers (CC) has drawn attention to the drastic damage on the national economy as a result of continuous importation of energy drinks, which it described, “as an act of sabotage and destruction to local industries.”
Messrs Olufemi Odebunmi and Rufai Rimi, Convener and Co-convener of the CC, respectively wrote in a statement titled, ‘The Importation of Energy Drinks into Nigeria Despite the Proven Health Hazards and the Various Ban on Imported Juices,’ addressed to the heads of relevant agencies of government, a copy of which was seen by the media posits that “Energy drinks fall into the category of ready-to-drink fruit juice, which importation of same in whatsoever mode and means remains banned in Nigeria since 2003.”
Condemning the massive influx of imported energy drinks into the country, Odebunmi and Rimi called on agencies of government including Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service, the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Consumers Protection Council of Nigeria, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) “to be vigilant and discourage the unscrupulous importation of energy drinks into Nigeria which will jeopardize the interest of the local industries and sabotage the national interest of the country.” For about 20 years now, product HS Codes 2009.11.0012 – 2009.11.0013 – 2009.9000.99 have been on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) list of prohibited products.
“By the circular of the Federal Ministry of Finance of March 20, 2015 the Import Prohibition List (Trade) Annex III states all the products and goods whose importation into Nigeria was prohibited. Curiously, fruit juice in retail packs were banned along with water, mineral water, aerated water containing added sugar or sweetening matter flavoured, other non-alcoholic beverages and beer and stout and the only exception was energy or health drinks.”
According to the CC officials, more than 85 per cent of the market is dominated by imported energy drink brands. The locally manufactured brands are all struggling as they don’t have international brand name and recognition to match imported ones. They are therefore disadvantaged and even considered inferior. Failure to enforce ban on restricted products is a clear demonstration of government’s lack of support for local industries. By not check mating smuggled energy drinks, government and its agencies have done a great disservice to local manufacturers of energy drinks.
“Concerned Consumers are perplexed by various developments in our polity which do not augur well for the health of the citizens and which is also discouraging local production at the time when the country should be looking inward and saving it’s scarce foreign exchange.”
Reeling out figures to support their call for a ban on imported energy drink brands, the CC Convener and Co-Convener argued that over 300,000 Nigerians would have been fully and gainfully employed if the market was allowed to grow indigenously. They estimated that an average number of between 1,800 and 2,000 containers of energy drinks are imported into the country annually. With each container consisting of 2,600 cases, at the going price of between N18,000 and N20,000 per case, the estimated loss to the country is over N104 billion annually.
Bemoaning the unpalatable effects of the imported energy drink, the CC officials said if the trade continues unchecked, it will lead to closure of local industries leading to massive loss of jobs, increase in the high rate of unemployment and scarcity of the much-needed foreign exchange, allowing the Naira to further depreciated.
“We are amazed that our health and regulatory and standard organizations are still allowing imported energy drinks into the country even after the debilitating nature of the damage to our health from these imported energy drinks and most importantly, why would it be exempt along with health drinks, almost a case of healthy and unhealthy drinks branded together.”