16+ restriction on energy drinks

29 July, 2019 by
FMCG Business

From 2 September, customers will need to be 16 years or older to buy energy drinks at Countdown’s 180 supermarkets nationwide. The decision comes in response to growing concerns raised by health leaders about the impact increased consumption of high-sugar, highly-caffeinated energy drinks is having on New Zealand children.

There are 74 energy drink products in a range of brands or pack sizes sold across Countdown’s supermarkets, which will now be sold to customers 16 years or older.


The Australia New Zealand Food Standard defines an energy drink as a ‘Non-alcoholic, water-based flavoured beverage which contains caffeine and may contain carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins and other substances (including other foods) for the purpose of enhancing mental performance’.

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, says the company has talked with a wide range of health leaders, and the combination of caffeine, sugar, serving sizes and the fact that children often consume energy drinks on the way to school was specifically highlighted to them.

“We’ve talked with a wide range of people about this issue and overwhelmingly, the advice and feedback we received was that when it came to children’s health, restricting the sale of energy drinks would make an important and meaningful impact in an area of high need,” says Hannifin. “Energy drinks are not recommended for children and they already have to carry a warning on pack.”

Countdown set health and nutrition targets as part of its 2020 corporate responsibility programme, which include giving away more than 50,000 pieces of Free Fruit for Kids every week; reformulating its own brand product range to reduce sugar, salt, fat and remove artificial colours and flavours; and rolling out the Health Star Rating on own brand products.

Did you know?

Supermarkets in the UK have recently introduced an age-restriction on energy drinks. Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver spent the last three years campaigning for the cause.