Over SR6 billion spent on energy drinks a year in KSA

Updated 17 March 2014
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Over SR6 billion spent on energy drinks a year in KSA

The Kingdom spends more than SR6 billion a year on energy drinks, investors and businessmen at the Council of Saudi Chambers have said.
The Council of Ministers banned last Monday the sale of energy drinks at government, educational and health facilities. They also prohibited companies advertising these products and sponsoring social, cultural and sports events.
Council members have described the decision as sound and correct considering the fact that teens record the highest consumption of such drinks.
Such drinks, they warn, pose a threat to cardiac patients, athletes and people who are allergic to the components of these beverages.
Fahd Al-Tayar, a member of the Food and Beverage Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said that initial estimates indicate that 5 million young men consume more than 5 million energy drink cans daily, worth SR15 million.
This translates to an average monthly expenditure of SR450 million.
“These figures will gradually drop thanks to strict monitoring on restaurants, canteens and cafeterias across the Kingdom from this month,” said Al-Tayar. “Energy drinks will progressively disappear from the market.”
A single can contains about 30 tablespoons of sugar, according to preliminary investigation, in addition to high levels of caffeine compared to other beverages.
“These drinks are included in the list drawn up by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority as hazardous to public health, mainly to pregnant women, children under the age of 16, cardiac patients, patients with high blood pressure, diabetic persons, athletes and persons allergic to caffeine,” explained Al-Tayar. “Although cans contain warning labels, they are mostly ignored by customers upon purchase.”
“I think the ban on the sale of energy drinks in the Kingdom is an excellent move,” said Mohammed Jan, professor and consultant of pediatric neurology and clinical neurophysiology at the Department of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University. “These drinks are actually not that bad if consumed just once in a day, but the problem is that it has become more like an addiction. Youth consume up to five cans a day, which is extremely harmful.”
Jan said that these energy drinks act like stimulants. “The high doses of sugar in these drinks decreases appetite, keeps them awake, gives them an energy push and they may develop tendencies to get into fights.”
“I believe this ban will minimize the commercial promotion of these drinks,” he said. “In many developed countries, there is a minimum age for buying energy drinks from supermarkets, but in the Kingdom, there is no such regulation or age limit, so they are exposed to these drinks from an early age.”
Jan said that several cafes and billiard lounges in the Kingdom mix energy drinks with fruit juices.
Khaled Bawazir, deputy chairman of the Food and Beverages Committee at the JCCI, said that starting from next month, all contracts for importing energy drinks will be stopped in line with phasing out current stocks in markets.
“Supervisory bodies will soon submit reports to agencies conceened following inspection rounds to check the compliance of shops, restaurants, malls and cafeterias with the new regulations,” said Bawazir.
He added that the sale of energy drinks is expected to drop by more than 80 percent compared to last year following the implementation of the ban.
Bawazir said that the new trademark owners who are about to enter the Saudi markets will face difficulties in marketing their products in view of the decision, but said that “one should not forget that profit margins of energy drink companies exceed 600 percent compared with the real costs of such drinks.”


Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi attack on Yemen UN monitors

Updated 54 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi attack on Yemen UN monitors

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Friday strongly condemned the targeting of “UN personnel by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen” after cease-fire monitors came under fire.
The attack took place on Thursday in Hodeidah, where a truce agreed in talks in Sweden came into force last month.
The Houthi militia “have violated their signed commitments in Stockholm and continue to flout international law and escalate their aggression against the Yemeni people,” Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman tweeted on Friday.
The UN said one round of small arms fire struck a UN-marked armored vehicle that was part of convoy carrying chief monitor Patrick Cammaert.
The UN monitors arrived in Hodeida — the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s imports — on Dec. 23. The UN Security Council this week agreed to expand the force to 75 monitors.