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5 September, 2013

Today the Australian Beverages Council announced the results of a comprehensive national caffeine consumption survey, finalised in late August 2013.

The Galaxy Poll asked 1,105 Australians aged 15-49 years old a range of questions regarding their weekly and monthly consumption of products that contain caffeine.

”As well as getting some insightful information about where Australians are getting their caffeine from, we also wanted to find out whether or not they are aware of the caffeine contents of some commonly consumed products,” explained the Beverages Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Parker.

“As the representative body for 95% of non-alcoholic beverages manufacturers and distributors in the country, we need to know firstly if there is a need to educate consumers about caffeinated products, and if there is, then whether that’s in the area of consumption or caffeine content, or both.” Mr Parker continued.

Where are Australians getting their caffeine?

The results confirmed that coffee and tea remain the major contributors to caffeine consumption. Together, they represent 70% of the weekly caffeine intake, with coffee (instant, café/coffee shop, ground coffee at home, iced coffee, and espresso) collectively contributing a 52% and tea (iced, green, and black) contributing 19%. The remaining contributors were cola drinks at 18%, and chocolate equal with energy drinks at 5%.. Caffeine tablets and training supplements were outside the scope of the survey.

“In considering caffeine in the diet and any changes to the regulations, the Government must recognise coffee is the obvious place to start. On the one hand, coffee is the most highly caffeinated product and is by far the largest contributor to caffeine intake with up to 250mg in a long black. But then on the other hand, there is absolutely no limit on how much caffeine may be in a cup of coffee and no labelling requirements. No matter what lens you view it through, the scales just don’t balance” said Mr Parker.

“All of the hype is around energy drinks which are limited to an absolute caffeine content the same as an instant cup of coffee – 80mg for a 250mL can – yet they only contribute 5% to the caffeine intake of Australians. As far as labeling is concerned, energy drinks in Australia set the highest benchmark– not just here, but anywhere in the world. As well as disclosing the amount of caffeine, they also provide advisory statements on who should avoid consumption, and a daily maximum consumption allowance” continued Mr Parker.

Which products have the highest caffeine content?

Information from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the Australian Institute of Sport  shows that when it comes to the caffeine content of commonly consumed products, the most highly caffeinated products are café coffees like a long black (approx. 250mg)  a cappuccino or a  latte which have a range of 113-282mg for a 250mL cup. A 250mL energy drink has a maximum of 80mg of caffeine which is similar to the amount in a cup of instant coffee (60-80mg),  while cola drinks contains 49mg which is similar to a cup of black tea (25-110mg). Further detail on the caffeine content of commonly consumed products can be found below.

“Every one of us knows from our own experience that there’s a café on every corner and that specialty coffee is also within arm’s reach at home through popular pod machines.

“As a population, we’re all drinking a lot more coffee. We consume 1 billion cups a year outside of the home and 4 billion cups at home. In the 8 year period between 2003-2011, there were nearly 2,000 new café’s established” said Mr Parker.

Are Australians aware of the relative caffeine content of products?

The survey showed that just 4% of Australians correctly indicated that coffee from a café contains the highest amount of caffeine. 36% incorrectly believe that energy drinks were the most highly caffeinated

Overall, Australian perceptions of products having the highest level of caffeine:

36% say energy drink (80mg)

25% say extra caffeinated cola drink (69mg)

16% say espresso coffee (107mg)

4% say cola drink (49mg)

4% say coffee from a café (107-282mg)

“This result is just another reminder that coffee, which contributes the most to caffeine intake and has the highest concentration of caffeine, is also the product that Australians know the least about when it comes to judging caffeine content.” said Mr Parker.

Existing Industry Self-Regulation

As far as regulation is concerned, the prescriptive Australian and New Zealand Food Standard 2.6.4 limits the caffeine content of energy drinks to 80mg for a 250mL can (which is the equivalent to a cup of instant coffee) and imposes the highest benchmark when it comes to labeling – not just here but anywhere in the world. As well as disclosing caffeine content, labels are also required to provide advisory statements on who should avoid consumption, and a daily maximum usage statement.. This contrasts to other countries like the US where there is no food standard for energy drinks.

As well as this, and pursuant to the Beverages Council’s Energy Drink Industry Commitment document, energy drinks manufacturers do not directly market to children and do not sell to any schools.

The Australian and New Zealand Government’s Food Regulation Policy Options Paper on caffeine acknowledges the Beverages Council’s Energy Drink Industry Commitment document and notes that “while these self-regulatory codes only formally apply to members of those organisations, their existence and application across the market may also affect the behaviour of non-members that are aware of them.”

MR – caffeine consumption survey results 04092013


Geoff Parker

Chief Executive Officer

Australian Beverages Council

E: geoff.parker@australianbeverages.org

P: 0407 646 195

Background:  (include references)

  • The survey asked participants questions relating to: cola drink, coffee from coffee shop, soft drinks, standard milk chocolate, green tea and black tea, instant coffee, ground coffee (at home or work), dark chocolate, energy drink, espresso coffee, iced coffee drink, iced tea drink, chocolate energy bar, extra caffeinated cola drink.
  • Caffeine content of regular products: