Christopher Snowdon was wrong in his prediction that Irn-Bru would be unaffected, as inevitably it was, with the accompanying guff from its makers A. G. Barr that nothing would change. However, this is a product that is regarded as something of a Scottish national icon, and its drinkers weren’t going to take it lying down. Whether or not the new version was actually better for you, there was no doubt that it didn’t taste the same.
So, after a long campaign, last year Barr’s released on a trial basis a product called Irn-Bru 1901, which claimed to follow the original recipe from when the drink was first introduced. This proved very successful, and so they have announced that it will become a permanent product. It will only be available in the classic glass bottle, not in slabs of cans, and I’d expect it will be sold at something of a premium, so it will remain a niche product. But there is clearly a demand there which the company have decided to meet. This shows that consumer pressure, if vocal and sustained enough, can change companies’ policies over moves like this.
The brand that really should now follow suit is, of course, Lucozade. This was specifically developed in the first place as a high-glucose drink and served a very specific purpose in helping Type 1 diabetics counter the effects of “hypos”, something that was lost when the sugar content was cut. Surely it would not harm them in the slightest to introduce a “Lucozade Classic” that met its original remit.
In recent years, a number of well-known beer and cider brands have had their alcoholic strength cut. In some cases, such as Stella Artois, the drinkers seem to have grudgingly accepted it, but I can think of others, mainly in the packaged sphere, which have lost their distinctive appeal and disappeared from the shelves. The only beer I can think of where a reduction in strength has been reversed is Bateman’s XXXB, which was cut, at least in the draught version, from 4.8% to 4.5%, but later put back up again. I can imagine a “Stella Classic” at 5.2% would find plenty of takers, even at a premium price, but somehow I can’t see AB InBev being keen to take that idea up.