Bajans prefer extra sweet drinks – BHL

It’s a case of beverage manufacturer Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) merely giving consumers what they want.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Richard Cozier said while the company was not averse to providing soft drinks with less sugar, Barbadians were the ones rejecting it and opting for the sweeter beverages.

At the same time, he said while the company remained open to working with key stakeholders in the production of lower sugar options, it would not be doing so by removing consumers’ freedom of choice.

Cozier’s comments came in light of a recent survey by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), which revealed that soft drinks and some juices manufactured in Barbados carried alarmingly high levels of refined sugar, which present a clear and present danger.

As a result HCC President Professor Sir Trevor Hassell called on soft drink manufacturers and those who produce sugar-sweetened beverages for sale here to review the sugar content in their products as a priority.

Sir Trevor recommended that soft drink producers halve the sugar levels at the earliest opportunity, after the survey showed that a single soft drink made here, in many instances, contained the equivalent of nearly ten tablespoons of sugar. The total added sugar intake for children is recommended not to exceed five teaspoons per day.

Asked to comment on the latest recommendation, Cozier said the BHL Group had engaged stakeholders, including Sir Trevor, from as far back as 2009, after which the company began a systemic reduction of the sugar content in local drinks, particularly the juices.

However, he said while BHL sought to adjust sugar levels “without materially impacting the flavor profile”, Barbadians had rejected those drinks and had opted for the sweeter stuff instead.

“BHL has produced several offerings in the low, no-sugar and light categories, which Barbadians have unfortunately rejected. Examples of these are Diet Frutee, Frutee Clear, then CLEAR, Pine Hill Light Delights, Pine Hill Sensations 100 per cent juice and BBC Flavoured Waters.

“In most cases the prices were the same and in some instances even lower than their full-sugar counterparts. The fact is however, that consumers continue to opt for the standard offerings. As has been demonstrated, we are by no means averse to the prospect of supplying lower sugar offerings to consumers. On the contrary, we stand ready to assist and are open to working with key stakeholders in the production of flavourful lower sugar options but not at the expense of removing the freedom of choice consumers now enjoy,” he said.

Cozier said the company continued to encourage consumers to vary their intake while creating greater balance by embracing active lifestyles. This, he said, was the reason BHL was engaged heavily in brand sponsorships of every sporting discipline in Barbados.

On World Obesity Day in October last year HCC launched its infographic on the sugar content of popular sugar sweetened beverages in the Caribbean.

While the recommended daily maximum intake of added sugars for children ages two to 18 years is 25 grammes, the data showed most of the popular soft drinks and juices contained between five and 25 grammes more sugar than recommended.

Based on a recommendation from the International Monetary Fund, Government in August 2015 imposed a ten per cent tax on sweetened beverages to raise in excess $10 million in year one and to reduce consumption of sweetened beverages.

The tax, which only raked in about $2 million in the first six months of its imposition, is to be reviewed in two years’ time to determine its impact and whether it should be extended or raised.

Following its imposition BHL had attributed a drop in soft drinks sales to the tax.

However, Minister of Health John Boyce reported last November that it was not having the desired impact.

“We are assessing the success of that programme, but even from where we can see that it has not necessarily had the impact that we would have hoped and that there is still that wanton consumption of sugary beverages,” Boyce said then. 

15 Responses to Bajans prefer extra sweet drinks – BHL

  1. Junis Warren
    Junis Warren January 11, 2017 at 2:24 am

    That is why the country has a diabetes problem. This makes no sense at all.

  2. Hewers of wood January 11, 2017 at 2:46 am

    Sugar is an addiction. Two few people are waking up to the impact of these drinks on their health. However, some are waking up and this will continue to spread so we should get even a further drop in the use of these drinks. This is a serious public health issue. No soft drink truck should be seen in a school in Barbados, but we like it so. More and more people are taking to natural juices = good.

  3. Horace Boyce
    Horace Boyce January 11, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Stop talkin nonsense yall need a boycott BNSI should have stepped in long time ago

  4. Jan Hold
    Jan Hold January 11, 2017 at 3:29 am

    He speaking for his self, I don’t buy period none,bout time they do something

  5. Heather Barton
    Heather Barton January 11, 2017 at 4:26 am

    Bajans not given a choice. On holiday in Barbados for independent, I noticed that not a diet drink was in sight, not even a diet coke. What a stupid comment that Bajans likes their drinks extra sweet. That is endangering the lives of people.

    • Joel C. Payne
      Joel C. Payne January 11, 2017 at 5:34 am

      EVERYTHING outta America has high fructose corn syrup. Most Barbados imports come from America. What you expect?

  6. Maureen Rose Tull
    Maureen Rose Tull January 11, 2017 at 4:46 am

    I noticed that even fruit juices were sweetened,my diabetic friend had great trouble trying to find unsweetened drinks of any kind,surely a manufacturer can produce a range of sugar free juices? There must surely be a market for it as someone said diabetes is on the increase in Barbados.

  7. Vylna Agnes George
    Vylna Agnes George January 11, 2017 at 5:03 am

    What a load of codswallop! Guilt shifting more like xx

  8. Joel C. Payne
    Joel C. Payne January 11, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Sugar plays with the neuron receptors in the humanbody producing pleasure feelings like drugs. It has addictiveness to it. People will have to go through ~ 2 week sugar withdrawls to kick it.

  9. Lennox hewitt January 11, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Well u all not talking for me i like sweet drinks period think we no no bout diabetes a man drink what he feel to drink at least me men smoke that’s cancer .

  10. Lennox hewitt January 11, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I agree with Cozier freedom of choice is what must be not u all getting n saying what wunna want we do my money u cannot tell me what to buy people buy all kinds things it’s there money i no idiot so don’t call me one freedom off speech freedom of choice .

  11. Simon Jackson January 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    I co-own and run So-Lo Trading Inc, in Black Rock, and have been trading in the food sector here for 10 years. As soon as I came here, I saw what appeared to be a “gap” in the market…very few people were offering low sugar or “no sugar” options for drinks…especially those aimed at children’s lunch packs. So, that’s what I did,, supplied drinks to fill that gap. However, the sales were so disappointing that we soon had to scale the stock levels way back, as they were not paying for their space on the sales floor. This is NOT to say that there is not a section of the population looking for lower sugar drinks,, it’s just that the VAST majority, to judge from our till receipts, either prefer a sweeter drink, or don’t care to change to lower sugar drinks, and in the final analysis, the supplier will be a fool to his business to stock what customers are not demanding. We still of course offer the lower sugar options, but now I realise it will not ever form anything except a tiny minority of our sales until attitudes towards sugar change at a fundamental level here.

  12. Connie Francis January 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    we all have freedom of choice , but what kind of choice? one taste too sweet and bad the diet ones have a chemical after taste… that is why I choose to leave them on the shelf.. .. I drink pipe water .

  13. Lucas January 11, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    The high sugar content of soft drinks are a public health concerns directly leading diabetes , cardiovascular disease and premature death.

    These products need to be banned from school compounds. Also taxes on these should be increased maximally.

  14. Adrian Hinds January 11, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Sugar is a poison.


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