Russian region ready to ban Red Bull

The trademark drink of Austria’s most powerful brand in the world may soon be banned in a region of Russia, one of the strongest economies in the world.

Moscow newspapers report today (Weds) that the State Duma, the country’s federal parliament, has begun discussing a prohibition of sales of Red Bull and other caffeine-based drinks to minors. Conservative citizens of the Eurasian state reportedly think that energy drinks – which are mostly also rich in sugar – pose as much a threat to order as alcohol.

The debate over whether teenagers should be kept from buying Red Bull and drinks manufactured by the Salzburg-based firm’s rivals comes as lawmakers in Chechnya agreed on totally banning energy drinks.

Rukman Bartiyev, the North Caucasian region’s deputy health minister, announced yesterday: “Energy drinks are comparable to beer.” He added that the drinks posed danger to people’s health.

Chechen health authorities explained that a complete ban of Red Bull and similar products will come into effect soon. International media see the upcoming decree in context with Chechnya’s strict Muslim rules on daily life under which everything considered as “un-Islamic” is prohibited.

Red Bull sold around four billion cans of its established energy drink in the world last year, up from around 3.9 billion units in 2009. At the same time, sales of its organic and conscious lifestyle beverages fail to take off. Simply Cola – a product launched to tackle Coca Cola’s dominance – has reportedly sold less often than expected too.

The firm headed by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz announced in 2010 it wanted to set its focus on Africa, Japan, India and Russia in the coming years as far as expansion endeavours were regarded.

Swedish newspapers reported around two years ago that eight of 10 of school nurses working in the Scandinavian country said they were in favour of a nationwide age limit for energy drinks like Red Bull. The school nurses said they observed an increase of cases of headache, chest pains and anxiety attacks experienced by teens after excessively guzzling such beverages.

There is currently no general age limit for the purchase of Red Bull and similar products by other companies in Sweden. However, some of the state’s leading supermarket companies implemented their own limits some years ago.

Erwin Bindreiter, headmaster of a Hauptschule (comprehensive school) in St. Georgen am Walde, Upper Austria, announced in 2009 he decided to ban energy drinks from the school premises. The head teacher told the press parents backed the decision.

“We noticed some students carried an energy drink can throughout the day. They were significantly less focused in class and also fidgety,” Bindreiter explained.

Red Bull has not commented on the news concerning how its bestselling drink is regarded in Chechnya, Sweden and by the board of teachers and committee of parents in St. Georgen am Walde.

The company came top in the latest Eurobrand Austria survey carried out by the European Brand Institute (EBI). The organisation said Red Bull managed to improve its brand value by 11.9 per cent from 2009 to last year to 13.4 billion Euros. This means Red Bull remains the strongest Austrian player in the global economy.