Coca-Cola, the sugary drink company beloved by children and adults alike, is getting its annual truck tour scaled back. This comes after 83 organisations, local charities and campaigners spoke out against the company handing out free sugary drinks.
The tour started last week in Glasgow and will end on 16th December in London, after stopping at 24 different locations across the UK. This is 14 fewer stops than last year in response to the Sugar Smart campaign, which aims to reduce the average person’s sugar intake through awareness campaigns.
The thousands of beaming fairy lights coming from the two trucks along with their free 150ml Coca-Cola’s, Coke Zero’s and Diet Coke’s have been welcomed by all since 1995. However, last year The Public Health England released a guidance warning local authorities of the impact that promotional marketing like the Coca-Cola truck could have on diet-related issues such as tooth decay and possible obesity.
The majority of stops this year are to be on supermarket land such as ASDA and Tesco who are hosting five stops each. The letter written and signed by 83 organisations hoping to put a stop to Coca-Cola trucks handing out free sugary drinks, also points out that the truck is to visit areas that have worse than average health problems in regards to diets. 14 of the 19 stops have above-average excess weight among 10- and 11-years-olds.
Liverpool councillor Richard Kemp, who signed the letter, told Huffington Post: “Most councils with public health responsibility have childhood obesity as their number one public health priority. However, some of them forget that when they reissue Coca-Cola press releases which claim that Christmas can now start because the Coca-Cola truck has arrived. Of course, the occasional drink of a Cola is OK but this company continually relate their product to well-being. This is entirely untrue.”
Coca-Cola has stuck up for the well-loved truck. John Woods general manager of Coca-Cola in the UK and Ireland told Huffington Post that the company expects 90% of the drinks given out to be zero sugar, Woods believes: “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…
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.”