CHICAGO -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association and the National Association of Concessionaires have joined New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a coalition formed to oppose New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on the sale of sugar-sweetened soft drinks in portions larger than 16 fluid ounces.
In joining the coalition, along with related associations, including the American Beverage Association, NAMA reinforced its recent statement: "As the nation's largest association representing the $42 billion vending, coffee service and foodservice management industries, we strongly oppose the proposed policy in New York City banning sweetened beverages in larger than 16-fl.oz. packages. Quite simply, proposals like this distract from real solutions to help keep consumers healthy."
NAC executive director Dan Borschke said that the National Association of Concessionaires is aggressively countering the proposed ban in New York City because it's a likely precursor for the rest of the country.
"In the late 1800s, Marshall Field coined the phrase that retailers and foodservice companies abide by to this day: 'The Customer Is Always Right.' The National Association of Concessionaires, its members and the concession industry believe that choice is an important element of American commerce," Borschke emphasized. "The proposed policy in New York City banning sweetened beverages in larger than 16-fl.oz. packages is arbitrary, capricious and ill-conceived."
The National Automatic Merchandising Association noted that its members offer millions of American consumers every day "exactly what they want: a choice in the selection of their snacks and beverages. Restricting consumer choice through public policy is not a viable solution," the vending association emphasized.
NAMA pointed out that sugar-sweetened beverages are a small and declining portion of the American diet -- just 7% of total calories. With 93% of our calories coming from other foods and beverages, the association said, the proposed New York City policy has missed the mark.
"Our NAMA members will continue to focus on educating our consumers on 'better for you' options and, perhaps more important, delivering a choice for our consumers in their snack and beverage selections, in the most convenient, affordable, reliable way possible."
The National Association of Concessionaires reported that, since 1998, average calories per serving from beverages are down 23%, and cited Centers for Disease Control data showing that, since 2000, added sugars consumed from soda dropped 39%.
"The concession industry does acknowledge that there is an obesity problem in the United States, and that is why choice is such an important element to our business," NAC continued. "A variety of new low-calorie, low-fat, sugar-free items are available, and will remain on concession stand shelves as long as the consumer continues to purchase them."
New Yorkers for Beverage Choices is supported by a wide variety of local businesses as well as regional and national trade associations; it has 306 members at this writing. The coalition's website describes the challenge: "According to the mayor, New Yorkers need help deciding what size beverage is appropriate. If this now, what's next?"