Asda was the first of the big four supermarkets to announce an age limit on the drinks, with restrictions coming into play on March 5.
Andy Murray, Asda chief consumer officer, said the supermarket was taking its responsibilities as a retailer seriously and would “work harder to ensure we get the balance between offering choice and doing the right thing”.
He added: “We have listened to our customers and want to take a leading position in this area to support parents and teachers in limiting young people’s access to high caffeine drinks.”
Restrict the purchase
Aldi will restrict the purchase of soft drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre from March 1, requiring consumers to prove their age before buying the products.
Oliver King, MD of corporate responsibility at Aldi, said: “We are introducing this age restriction in response to growing concern about the consumption of energy drinks among young people.”
Sainsbury's also announced plans to restrict the sale of energy drinks to children, with a ban to begin from March 1.
Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said: “We take our responsibilities as a retailer very seriously and have a strong track record in helping our customers to live healthier lives.
“While our own brand high-caffeine energy drinks are clearly labelled as not suitable for children, we’re now committing to preventing the sale of these products to under-16s.”
The supermarkets’ ban comes after Waitrose announced that it would check the identity of consumers purchasing energy drinks after March 5.
Commenting on the supermarkets’ response, campaign group Action on Sugar nutritionist Kawther Hashem said: “We are delighted to see that Asda and Aldi have followed Waitrose’s lead with its ban on energy drinks and hope all the other big retailers will comply.
“Retailers must be held accountable and reminded to reconsider their ethical responsibility.”
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver also shared his support for the ban on the sale of energy drinks to children on social media site Twitter – see his tweet below.
Commenting on the ban, the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) said the move built on existing industry efforts. This included labelling guidelines that require any high caffeine energy drink to include an advisory note to children.
BSDA director general Gavin Partington said: “Energy drink manufacturers have taken all possible steps to be clear about the suitability of energy drinks.
“Retailers, schools and parents all have a role to play in educating children about caffeine and sugar consumption from all sources.”