Coca-Cola Christmas trucks to make fewer stops

Coca-Cola Christmas trucks to make fewer stops

Coca-Cola has scaled back its annual Christmas truck tour as resistance was growing to the company giving out free sugary drinks. Asda and Tesco have been urged to review their partnership with the tour. The BDA has urged Coca Cola to drop the spin on the ’healthy options’ offered on its Christmas tour - and says its sugar-free brands are more acidic than lemon juice and vinegar.

The tour will end in London on December 16 after stopping at 24 locations, down from 38 last year. The two lorries decorated with fairy lights and offering free 150ml cans of Coca-Cola, Zero Sugar and Diet Coke have visiting shopping centres since 1995.

Last year Public Health England issued guidance to local authorities warning about the impact seasonal marketing promotions can have on diet-related diseases. At that time, chief executive Duncan Selbie criticised the annual PR stunt, saying “big-name brands touring the country at Christmas to advertise their most sugary products to children and boost sales does nothing to help families make healthy choices and wider efforts to combat childhood obesity and rotten teeth”.

Mr Selbie said of this year’s tour: “Sugary drinks contribute to childhood obesity and poor dental health. Every year the Coca-Cola Christmas truck gives away its products to children and families as it tours the UK. Much of this is no sugar or diet variants, signalling a welcome change in peoples preferences. PHE would like to see the tour give away 100% no sugar products and consider its use of the iconic brand in its approach to marketing and sales. There is still far more companies can do to improve their products and reduce pressure on people to buy and consume more sugar and calories than they need.”

This year, 83 organisations and health campaigners including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the British Dental Association, the Royal Society for Public Health and 27 local councils have signed an open letter co-ordinated by Sugar Smart calling on Coca-Cola to stop distributing sugary drinks through its Christmas tour. The BDA’s Health and Science Chair Russ Ladwa said: "Whether your Cola is sugary or sugar-free don’t believe industry spin doctors when they claim there’s a ’healthy option’ for your teeth.

Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola UK and Ireland, said the company expected 90% of the drinks given out on the tour to be zero sugar and none would be given to children under 12 without a parent present. He said: “I believe the actions we have taken as a business to remove sugar from our drinks and focus our marketing on the no sugar variants of Coca-Cola show we are committed to acting responsibly and playing our part in addressing some of the challenges you raise. For a few weeks per year thousands of consumers love and enjoy our Christmas truck tour and as long as consumers want it we will continue to run it.”

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