My client and friend Adam Pritchard is in trouble and he needs your help. Adam runs PomeGreat, a small British juice business.
I’ve been working with Adam for several years. He’s committed to doing his bit to tackling the scourge that is type 2 diabetes. We’re all at risk.
For the last decade Adam has invested in clinical research into the health benefits of pomegranates and into sugar alternatives. Nearly twenty scientific papers in the last year alone point to the health benefits of pomegranates.
PomeGreat’s juice drinks offer a double whammy for people at risk of diabetes (ie, all of us). The punicalagins in pomegranate juice help to manage blood sugar levels and keep our arteries healthy. The Pinitol in his juice drinks replaces the sugar and helps consumers avoid the glycaemic spikes associated with regular sugary drinks. His juice drinks have been endorsed by the Independent Diabetes Trust.
For five years Adam and his partners have been battling European regulations to clear his health claims for use on his packs. Visit a supermarket today and you wouldn’t be able to make a health distinction between Adam’s juices and Colas. That’s not because his drinks aren’t much healthier. It’s because regulation legally blocks him from making claims, despite science to support them.
Today the national newspapers are full of reports criticising PomeGreat for its sugar content. The Local Government Association (that, cough, well known source of scientific data) chose a quiet Easter Sunday, without consulting, to put out a report claiming that PomeGreat has more sugar in it than Coca Cola. The claims are ludicrous and damaging, but at last count there are 12 reports out there. The damage has been done.
PomeGreat is a small British business trying its best to make a difference to public health. It has neither the pockets nor the clout of multi-national brands and it is likely that PomeGreat’s sales will plummet as a direct result of this report.
I’ve spent the last day trying to get to the bottom of these health claims to no avail. The authors of the report – the Local Government Association – are probably busy enjoying roast lamb and toasting their ‘success’ while another sacrificial lamb, my client, tries to work out what to do about this so-far unsubstantiated assault on his brand.
They’ve picked the wrong enemy. What they’ve done to Adam and to PomeGreat is akin to a General, in the thick of battle, turning his guns on his own troops.
My litmus test in supporting any client is “do I believe what they are saying and do I think this is a good thing?” Adam and PomeGreat tick all the boxes for me. His commitment to the peace effort in Afghanistan by buying pomegranates from farmers, his investment in clinical research – and his principled decision to spend 2.5 times the amount sugar would cost him to find a healthier, safer alternative.
Earlier this year in London, Adam signed a memorandum of understanding with a factory in Kabul as part of an International Trade Conference in London hosted by the Government. He’s a BBC report. Under the terms of that deal, Adam would buy pomegranate juice from a factory in Kabul, making a huge contribution to international trade. The adverse publicity from the LGA’s announcement casts a shadow over this deal.
Here’s something you could do to help Adam. Share this on social media – and next time you’re in a supermarket, buy some of his juice or one of his juice drinks. A principled British entrepreneur committed to public health could use your help.
UPDATE Monday evening 8.30pm: I’ve spent the best part of the day trying to get hold of the LGA press office and the local government Councillor quoted in the ‘study’ in an attempt to get hold of the scientific basis for their claims. Radio silence. In the meantime, reports are cropping up on most major news websites doing untold damage to PomeGreat’s reputation.
UPDATE Tuesday 10.45am: Still no response from the LGA press office on the science behind their report. In fact, no response whatsoever. I’ve written to the chair of their Wellbeing committee, Councillor Izzy Seccombe, as well. No luck there either. It feels like such a simple request: ‘show me the evidence’.
UPDATE Thursday 3.00pm: The Local Government Association refuse to accept that their announcement was harmful and misleading. They admit that the ‘study’ is based on a cursory reading of the information on the side of the pack and that it is not based on independent scientific analysis. The pack has the Independent Diabetes Trust logo on it and the pack is clearly marked to indicate that it is a Low GI product. [PomeGreat has couriered a pack of its juice drink to the LGA press office. One of the benefits of drinking PomeGreat is that help consumers to avoid the glycaemic spikes associated with other sugary drinks. It also helps with arterial health, better blood flow and clearer decision making. Perhaps they could enjoy a glass of PomeGreat before they draft their next announcement.] PomeGreat are making a formal complaint. The LGA report has reached millions of people and PomeGreat’s sales are down. There’s a moral choice to be made here and the LGA are so far walking away from it.