Concerned Consumers (CC), a consumer rights protection group, has expressed worries over the N104 billion revenue lost annually by the country to imports of energy drinks.

Mr Olufemi Odebunmi, Convener, CC, said this in a statement signed by Mr Rufai Rimi, Co-convener, CC on Thursday in Lagos.

Odebunmi said that over 300,000 Nigerians would have been gainfully employed if the market was allowed to grow indigenously.

He estimated that an average of 1,800 and 2,000 containers of energy drinks were imported into the country annually.

“With each container consisting of 2,600 cases, at the going price of N18,000 to N20,000 per case, the estimated loss to the country is over N104 billion annually.

“The unpalatable effects of the imported energy drinks if the trade continues unchecked, will lead to closure of local industries leading to massive loss of jobs.

“The development would also increase the high rate of unemployment and further encourage scarcity of the much-needed foreign exchange, allowing the Naira to further depreciate,” he said.

Odebunmi called on agencies of government including Nigeria Customs Service, the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Consumers Protection Council of Nigeria, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to discourage energy drinks importation.

Also, CC co-convener, Rimi, queried the continuous exclusion of imported energy drinks from Trade Import Prohibition List, which described it as “a case of healthy and unhealthy drinks branded together.”

According to him, if fruit juice in retail packs are banned, then energy drinks ought to be banned, and should be now be included in the Import Prohibition List.

Rimi stated that part of the interest of import prohibition was to lead, eventually, to local production of same.

According to him, this can be seen from the burgeoning fruit juice industry in Nigeria which has grown in leaps and bounds from 2015.

He noted that the few multi-national companies in Nigeria, who have now engaged in local production of energy drinks, were considered inferior.

Rimi said that this had made the companies, therefore, to suffer poor and very low patronage in comparison with the imported ones.

“Curiously, fruit juice in retail packs were banned along with water, mineral water, aerated water containing added sugar or sweetening matter flavoured, other non-alcoholic beverages and beer and stout and the only exception was energy or health drinks.

“We are amazed that our health. Regulatory and standard organisations are still allowing imported energy drinks into the country.

“This is even after the debilitating nature of the damage to our health from these imported energy drinks.

“Most importantly, why would it be exempt along with health drinks?

“Its continued importation will jeopardise the interest of the local industries and sabotage the national interest of the country,” he said. NAN

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