YUSU bars are currently not selling J2Os, as well as certain brands of squash, after a dispute between supplier Britvic and the NUS. Courtyard, Glasshouse and Alcuin Kitchen can only serve products from an approved list provided by the NUS – a list from which Britvic products seemed to have been removed. According to an NUS spokesman, the conflict had arisen from an unpaid ‘brand owner fee’ – a payment made to the NUS by any company that wishes to have its products available in NUS-affiliated student bars. Britvic sponsored the annual NUS Awards in 2016, but the relationship seemed to have soured.
Along with J2Os, Britvic-supplied squashes were replaced by varieties from other NUS-approved brands. The replacement blackcurrant squash was colourfully described by one YUSU bars member of staff as “absolutely minging”.
It is not the first time that soft drink makers have courted controversy at the NUS. In 2015 the NUS voted to censure its own President, Megan Dunn, after she accepted a sponsorship deal with beverage giant Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola’s Israeli branch was deemed to contravene the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction), which seeks to economically pressure Israel into political concessions by boycotting goods and services from disputed territories.
A list of senior officers boycotted the NUS Annual Awards over the affair, including current NUS President and then black students officer Malia Bouattia. A boycott of Coca-Cola was also considered in 2004, after accusations emerged of human rights violations against Coca-Cola factory workers in Colombia.
As for J2Os, Nouse has now learned that the dispute may have been resolved. YUSU President Millie Beach said: “It’s true that we were unable to purchase J2Os because of a dispute between the NUS and Britvic. The situation has now been resolved however, and we will have J2Os and Britvic drinks back in our venues imminently. While our membership of NUS’s purchasing consortium does come with some product restrictions, the power of purchasing together with other students’ unions drives our costs down very significantly so we can pass on these savings to our students”.
The Britvic Press Office could not be reached for comment.