A majority of delegates at last week's Checkout Conference believe that the government's proposals to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products could lead the way for similar legislation governing high-fat or high-sugar products.
As part of the Conference, delegates were asked the following question: 'The government's plans to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products has been read by many in the industry as an indication that high-sugar and high-fat products could be next on the agenda. Do you think this will be the case?'
23.7% of respondents answered 'Yes, but not in the short to medium term', while 41.5% of respondents answered 'Yes, and it is only a matter of time'.
A further 25.4% answered 'No, but there is a need to address the issue', while 9.3% answered 'No, and there is no need to address the issue'.
The question formed part of a series of 'Ask the Audience' questions over the course of the day. Approximately 200 top executives from retail grocery and FMCG were present at the conference, which took place in association with Rabobank.
Commenting on the results, John Freda, General Manager, JTI Ireland said “The plain packaging of tobacco products, if introduced, will have major implications not just in Ireland but worldwide for businesses who have invested billions of euros in developing their brands. There is no doubt that the food and drinks industry both nationally and internationally will be hugely apprehensive of any precedents being set here in Ireland.
"In essence, plain packaging is not exclusively a tobacco issue and could have major ramifications for Ireland’s food and drinks export industry. Before any decision is made, the potential knock-on effects of plain packaging for tobacco products need to be seriously considered.”
Last week, a report by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), part of the US Chamber of Commerce, noted that Australia's decision to introduce plain packaging on tobacco products has been 'disruptive' to global Intellectual Property (IP) commitments.
"Australia’s plain packaging requirements severely limits the ability of trademark owners to exploit their rights, and sends a chilling message to brand owners interested in selling in the Australian market," the report noted. "In 2013, five countries brought action against Australia in the WTO on the basis the new law violates Australia’s WTO commitments."
© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones