Fourpure Brewing Company’s product Juicebox IPA has been upheld in one of the first complaints under the Portman Group’s new Code of Practice, following concerns that the citrus-themed packaging and brand name could appeal to children. 

Zenith Global, which was commissioned to carry out an audit of 500 (randomly selected) products, considered Juicebox to be “problematic”, so it was brought to the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel to assess.

An audit is commissioned each time a new Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks is introduced and the most recent audit by Zenith Global was scheduled following the 2019 introduction of the Portman Group’s sixth edition of the Code of Practice. The full audit report is due to be published in Spring 2020.

During the audit, Zenith expressed concern that the imagery and name on the product did not provide absolute clarity that it was alcoholic. It raised concern that the product could have a particular appeal to under-18s due to the image of “heaps of oranges”, which it felt made an association with orange juice, further strengthened by the brand name “Juicebox”, which it said could easily be interpreted by children as an orange juice or fizzy drink.

The Panel believed the product clearly conveyed to the average consumer that the product was alcoholic, but were concerned that it could have particular appeal to under-18s and for this reason, the complaint was not upheld under the Code paragraph 3.1 (“The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity”), and upheld under Code paragraph 3.2 (“a drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under-18s”).

Commenting on the decision, Chair of Independent Complaints Panel, Jenny Watson, said: “The Panel believed that the stylised image of a heap of oranges, including one depicted as a sun, alongside the name ‘Juicebox’, which could be easily associated with a children’s drink meant that this product had a particular appeal to under-18s. It once again highlights how important it is for producers to consult the Code of Practice and the Portman Group’s advisory service before launching a product to avoid problems before they arise.”

Fourpure Brewing’s Juicebox has been sold since March 2016 and, according to the brewer, it has been a consistently top-selling brand. The company said it took compliance responsibilities “very seriously”, and said it has never received any complaints from consumers or regulators and that no retailers had suggested the packaging was particularly appealing to under-18s or that it was insufficiently clear the product was a beer.

Fourpure, which is owned by Kirin, is now working with the Advisory Service to assess the next steps for Juicebox.