A group, Concerned Consumers, has called attention to the severe harm that energy drink importation has inflicted on the Nigerian economy, calling it “an act of sabotage and destruction to local industry.”
The heads of the relevant government agencies received a copy of a statement addressed to them titled “The Importation of Energy Drinks into Nigeria Despite the Proven Health Hazards and the Various Ban on Imported Juices,” in which Messrs. Olufemi Odebunmi and Rufai Rimi, the convener and co-convener of the CC, respectively, noted that energy drinks fall into the category of ready-to-drink fruit juice, which importation in whatever mode and means remains banned in Nigeria since 2003.
Odebunmi and Rimi, who denounced the massive influx of imported energy drinks into the nation, urged government agencies, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Customs Service, the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control, the Consumers Protection Council of Nigeria, and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, to be vigilant and discourage the unscrupulous importation of energy drinks into Nigeria, which will jeopardise the interests of the local industrial sector.
They added that for about 20 years now, product HS Codes 2009.11.0012 – 2009.11.0013 – 2009.9000.99 have been on the NCS list of prohibited products.
The statement read, “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.
“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 names and recognition to match the imported ones. They are therefore disadvantaged and even considered inferior.
“Failure to enforce ban on restricted products is a clear demonstration of the government’s lack of support for local industries. By not checkmating smuggled energy drinks, the 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 its scarce foreign exchange.”
The CC Convener and Co-Convener cited statistics to support their demand for a ban on imported energy drink brands, claiming that over 300,000 Nigerians would have been completely and gainfully employed if the market had been allowed to develop domestically.
They calculated that the average annual importation of energy drinks into the nation is between 1,800 and 2,000 containers.
At the market rate of between N18,000 and N20,000 per case, each container has 2,600 cases, therefore the estimated annual loss to the nation is greater than N104 billion.
Bemoaning the unpleasant side effects of the imported energy drink, the CC officials warned that if the trade was left unchecked, it would cause the closure of local industries, which would result in a significant loss of jobs, an increase in the high unemployment rate, a shortage of desperately needed foreign currency, and a further depreciation of the naira.
They said, “We are amazed that our health and regulatory and standard organisations 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.”