A consumer rights protection group, Concerned Consumers (CC), has alerted relevant authorities and the general public on the compelling urgency to stop importation of energy drinks into the country.
Reeling out figures to support their call for a ban on imported energy drink brands, the CC Convener and Co-Convener, Messrs Olufemi Odebunmi, Convener and Rufai Rimi respectively 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.
They queried the continuous exclusion of imported energy drinks from Import Prohibition List (Trade), describing it as “a case of healthy and unhealthy drinks branded together.”
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 heads of relevant agencies of government, a copy of which was seen by the media, Odebunmi and Rimi stated.
“If fruit juice in retail packs are banned, then energy drinks ought to be banned, ought to have been banned and should be now be included not excluded from the Import Prohibition List as its exclusion is actually inimical to the local industry growth and to the health of the citizenry including financially with the engagement of scarce Dollars in the pursuit of such Importation.”
The CC officials drew attention to a circular issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance on March 20, 2015 titled ‘Import Prohibition List (Trade) Annex III’ which states goods and products whose importation into Nigeria are 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, “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?”
Odebunmi and Rimi argued that “Part of the interest of import prohibition is to lead eventually to local production of same, which can be seen from the burgeoning fruit juice industry in Nigeria which has grown in leaps and bounds from 2015, following its import prohibition, whereas, there are actually a few multi-national companies in Nigeria who have now engaged in local production of energy drinks but alas, they are considered inferior and therefore suffer poor and very low patronage in comparison with the imported ones that leads one to ask when is Nigeria going to protect its territory and its citizenry?”
Energy drinks fall into the category of ready-to-drink fruit juice, which importation of same in whatever 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 jeopardise 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.
The CC officials disclosed that 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 its scarce foreign exchange.”