Plain packaging would cost food and beverage industry billions, study shows

Extending plain packaging laws to cover the food and beverage industry could cost businesses billions of dollars, new research shows.

An impact analysis by Brand Finance showed at least US$293 billion ($382 billion) in implied loss across the beverage industry, with Coca-Cola and Pepsi the most vulnerable, with each likely to lose a quarter of their value.

Since 1 December 2012, all tobacco products sold, offered for sale, or otherwise supplied in Australia must be in plain packaging.

Worldwide, activists have been advocating for similar measures to be applied to alcohol and some food and drink products.

Brand Finance analysed the potential impact if such a policy was extended to food and beverage brands in four categories – alcohol, confectionary, savoury snacks and sugary drinks.

The estimates refer to the loss of value derived specifically from brands and do not account for further potential losses resulting from changes in price and volume of the products sold, or illicit trade. Therefore, the total damage to businesses affected is likely to be higher.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, said applying plain packaging in the food and drink sector would render some of the world’s most iconic brands unrecognisable, changing the look of household cupboards and supermarket shelves forever, and result in astronomical losses for the holding companies.

“Predicted loss of brand contribution to companies at risk is only the tip of the iceberg.”

Plain packaging would also mean losses in the creative industries, including design and advertising services, he said.


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