Monday, June 24, 2024

Sports drinks sector needs to tackle regulatory challenges ahead of public health policy initiatives

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The last couple of years have posed significant regulatory challenges for the sports drinks market in Europe. As part of the Farm to Fork Strategy​ that was published in May 2020, the European Commission is planning to introduce a mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) and set nutrient profiles to improve food information to consumers and tackle the consumption of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) and the rising levels of obesity in Europe.

In March 2021, the Commission has also revived its work​ on the setting of maximum permitted levels (MPLs) for vitamins and minerals added to foods. In 2020, the UK Government also announced its plan to restrict the promotion of HFSS foods with a number of measures – some still under review.

Here are the current developments on these fronts, how these policy measures affect the market for sports beverages, and what the industry can do to ensure legislation is fit for purpose.

Front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) and nutrient profiles

The industry has launched a targeted campaign asking for clear exemptions from these regulations for specialist nutrition products, such as sports drinks, stressing that these products shouldn’t be identified as HFSS foods that contribute to increased obesity levels.

As the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), the trade body representing the interests of the sports and active nutrition sector across Europe, has stressed​, setting mandatory FOPNL and nutrient profiles on sports nutrition products, would not improve consumers’ information about these products. Rather, it would prevent them from making healthy, informed choices.

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