If you’re a parent of a pre-teen, chances are you’ve heard whispers of a new energy drink taking the world by storm. Prime.
It’s bright, it’s bold, it has flavours like ‘Meta Moon’ that sound too made up to be true, and most of all, it has a cult-like following that might make you feel like your kid has been brainwashed – and maybe they have.
Created by two extremely popular YouTubers, Logan Paul and KSI – who have more than 40 million YouTube subscribers between them – the content creators have heavily promoted the drink to their easily influenced viewers earning more than US$250 million in sales worldwide.
However, the drink has also been met with its fair share of controversy and concern from health professionals and parents alike.
So, before you say yes or no to letting your child try the cult energy drink, here’s everything you need to know:
What is Prime?
Available in two forms, Prime Hydration and Prime Energy, “hydration” was launched in 2022 and has been heavily publicised as a sports drink ever since. It comes in nine intriguing flavours including, blue raspberry, ice pop, tropical punch, meta moon, among others and is made up of everything you’d expect to be in it including B Vitamins and electrolytes.
It seems relatively harmless and that’s because compared to “Energy” it is.
Created to be an energy drink, the formula of Prime Energy was released this year and is available in seven flavours including, blue raspberry, ice pop, lemon lime, orange mango, strawberry watermelon, tropical punch and a UK-exclusive “KSI flavour” (reportedly mango).
But what perhaps makes it so opinion-provoking is that it contains so much caffeine that the sale of the product has been banned in New Zealand and investigated by the FDA.
Healthline reported that a single 12 ounce (350mL) can of Prime Energy contains 200 milligrams of caffeine making it equivalent to six cans of Coca-Cola. It’s a significant amount of caffeine that can be extremely dangerous for some people – particularly those with undiagnosed heart conditions.
Why is the drink so popular?
Two words. Star power. Like anything in this world, if it’s promoted by the right people, it’s likely to be a major success regardless of whether the product is good or not. Think about all the detox teas that supposedly help you lose weight, or even Gwyneth Paltrow’s bizarre vagina-smelling candles.
Prime is no different and has largely become a success due to its celebrity backers. Paul and KSI may land themselves in hot water from time to time due to their controversial hot takes and videos, but ultimately they’re some of YouTube’s biggest stars.
Since launching the drink, the content creators have continuously marketed their business venture to their own audience on social media, as well as sending it out to other major influencers on the platform to “review” it.
It seems every video you watch on the sharing platform, is a bottle of Prime strategically placed in the background making it a highly desired product for all the young girls and boys watching.
Despite the product causing concerns, Paul and KSI’s marketing plan has been rather genius. Paul revealed in January this year, that the drink’s retail sales reached US$250 million (NZ$418 million) worldwide, with $45 million ($75 million) of the total made in January 2023 alone.
Why is ‘Energy’ banned in NZ?
Simply put, the ‘Energy’ version of the drink contains too much caffeine.
In compliance with The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), New Zealand’s maximum amount of caffeine allowed in a drink is 32mg per 100ml. Prime Energy contains almost double that, coming in at 56mg per 100ml or 200mg per can.
It’s something that the University of Auckland’s head of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Dr Clare Wall believes has harmful effects. Speaking to Seven Sharp, Wall said: “Ingesting high amounts of caffeine could cause an increase in anxiousness and affect one’s sleep quality,” adding, “Some people are also caffeine-sensitive, so too much caffeine could cause their hearts to race and make people feel unwell.”
And that’s just for adults. When it comes to children, the drink can have even more harmful and long-term effects. Healthline reported that along with increased anxiety, the drinks could see children suffer from heart palpitations, high blood pressure and insomnia.
In fact, caffeine can have such negative effects on children that FSANZ guidelines state anyone under 18 years old should consume no more than 3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day. While the guidance for those over 18, is to consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day and no more than 200 mg in a single serving.
The concerns are valid and have resulted in many bans across the globe including in Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark. While other countries including South Africa and America are currently investigating the legalities of the drink.
Where are kids getting the drink from?
Despite the ban on Prime Energy, the drink isn’t impossible to get your hands on.
With people able to travel overseas, they are able to purchase both the banned Energy version and Hydration version of the drink in another country and bring it back to New Zealand. Once back in the country, they can give it to their children, friends or list it for sale on online marketplaces like Facebook, Amazon and Temu.
However, with the fanfare surrounding the drink, sales can fetch an insane amount of money. The Herald reported in April that some New Zealand teens are paying up to $30 per bottle - six times its retail price - online. Elsewhere, a pack of four of the (not banned) hydration drink, was priced at $116.71 from Factory Direct Nutrition on The Market.co.nz but was currently out of stock.