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Background to labelling sports foods

Background to labelling of sports foods

Back in 2014, an ad campaign by Lucozade was very eloquently entitled “Lucozade Sport vs Water.” In the video, two groups of athletes, one drinking water and one drinking Lucozade, are doing an endurance running test on a treadmill. Eventually, the “water only” athletes give up one by one, exhausted, while the Lucozade group keeps going strong. The reason is, quite simply, that Lucozade “hydrates and fuels you better than water.”

As it turned out, the Advertising Standard Authority had a lot of issues with that slogan. Although it was based on the authorised claim that “carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions enhance the absorption of water during physical exercise,” a dispute ensued between GlaxoSmithKline (the then owner of the brand) and ASA, around whether or not the wording in the ad departed too much from the authorised claim. The ASA eventually ruled that it did, and the ad was pulled off the air.

The details of the exchange between the two parties are quite technical, but they clearly illustrate one thing: in sports nutrition, claims are a big deal. Wherever there’s food marketing there are claims, and while that holds true for all types of food, it’s even more true for sports foods, considering the size of the market. According to a report from the European Commission, the EU retail market for the three categories of sports supplements, protein products, performance boosting products and sports drinks, grew by 11.2% between 2009 and 2014, reaching a total value of €3.07 billion in 2014. Read more