AG Barr has launched a larger 500ml Irn-Bru can for the UK market in time for the FIFA World Cup.

The soft drinks maker said yesterday (1 June) that it is hoping to capitalise on what will be a heavy consumption period during the tournament with the new size.

The limited edition ‘Big Match Can’ is available in regular and diet variants and will retail for GBP0.69 (US$1.02) for a 500ml can, GBP3.00 for a six-pack, and GBP2.39 for a two litre twin pack.

AG Barr said it will be the first non-energy soft drink to launch in a 500ml can format, which will be supported by point of sale material in stores.

However, Children's Food Campaign coordinator Christine Haigh told just-drinks that the larger format goes against the government's anti-obesity efforts.

"With high levels of obesity and the government's Food Standards Agency recommending that manufacturers of soft drinks containing sugar should make smaller 250ml portion sizes available, this is a backwards step," Haigh said.

"Packaging the drink in a can indicates that it is designed to be consumed as a single serving, and it is likely that older children in particular will be attracted to it because this size is used for alcoholic drinks such as beer and cider. A 500ml serving of Irn Bru contains more than ten teaspoons of sugar - that's more than 60% of the maximum recommended daily intake for a child," she added.

AG Barr however, brushed off criticism from health groups.

“This is a limited edition promotion pack to celebrate the exciting summer of football coming up this year,” Mark Jephcott, spokesperson for AG Barr told just-drinks.

“The 500ml Irn-Bru portion size is already very well established and liked by our consumers in plastic bottles, and 500ml cans are already a very well established serving size in the energy drinks market.

“Our 500ml cans are available in diet and regular, and we also offer a wide choice of pack sizes so that our consumers can exercise portion control,” Jephcott added.