Members of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) took to the streets of Isolo, Lagos, this morning, to protest the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s (NAFDAC) ban on alcoholic beverages produced in sachets or bottles smaller than 200ml. The government agency has also shut down production lines factories manufacturing the sachets across the country.
“Most of our jobs are at stake,” Olamide Somefun, Vice Chairman, Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association, Ota, Ogun State told BusinessDay, highlighting the potential impact on employment within the industry. “Many companies will fold up, especially those local industries that serve as raw materials to the producers.”
The protest comes after NAFDAC, led by Mojisola Adeyeye, director-general, announced the enforcement of the ban on February 1st, 2024. The agency had issued a five-year phase-out notice in 2019, aiming to completely eliminate these small-sized alcoholic beverages due to concerns about their accessibility to underage drinkers.
“The drinks come in pocket-friendly sizes, accessible and affordable,” Prof. Adeyeye explained at a press conference in Abuja. “Children easily fall for the packages, only to face the consequences in the future.”
However, NUFBTE members expressed their worries about the economic repercussions of the ban. “This is not just about our jobs,” another protester told local media. “It’s about the livelihoods of many families who depend on these industries.”
The ban had been agreed upon by a multi-agency committee in 2018, outlining a gradual reduction in production before the complete phase-out in 2024. NAFDAC emphasised that they had adhered to the agreed-upon timeline and did not renew any licenses for the banned products after January 2024.
While the NUFBTE protest highlights the concerns of industry workers especially with the rising cost of living, the NAFDAC remains firm in its commitment to protecting public health, particularly the well-being of young people. The agency has urged affected companies to explore alternative products and urged the public to support responsible drinking practices.