With calls to introduce plain packaging on items such as alcohol, confectionary and sugary drinks, it has been revealed that the impact of such a move could cause major producers to lose up to $187 billion.
An increasing number of countries are introducing strict regulations on the marketing and advertising of food and drink products in an attempt to prevent obesity and lifestyle diseases. With calls for more intrusive measures growing, the prospect of further applications of plain packaging looks increasingly likely.
Last year, regulations requiring tobacco companies to sell cigarettes and rolling tobacco in plain packaging i.e. standardised packs without branding and covered in graphic health warnings, were enforced in the UK.
In 2015, the WHO-backed Tobacco Atlas, called for extending plain packaging to alcohol and some food and drink products, and in 2016, Public Health England released a report calling for plain packaging to be considered for alcohol.
A report produced by Brand Finance reveals that eight major brand-owning companies would lose a total of $187 billion should plain packaging be mandated for other FMCG products, with alcohol and sugary drinks brands most vulnerable. The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo are among those corporations with most value at risk; $47.3 and $43.0 billion respectively, equal to 24% and 27% of their total enterprise values.
Entire brand portfolios of companies specialising in alcoholic drinks, such as Heineken, AB InBev, and Pernod Ricard, would fall within the scope of the legislation, jeopardising future revenue streams. There could be a potential loss of $293 billion for the beverage industry globally.
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: “To apply 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 also means losses in the creative industries, including design and advertising services, which are heavily reliant on FMCG contracts.”
Plain packaging is often referred to as a branding ban or brand censorship. By imposing strict rules and regulations, the legislator requires producers to remove all branded features from external packaging, except for the brand name written in a standardised font, with all surfaces in a standard colour.