Pepsi to spend billions cutting sugar from drinks but campaigners say it's not enough

One can will still contain an adults entire daily limit of added sugar, and it won't happen until 2025 - campaigners say it's not enough.

Click to follow
The Independent Online

PepsiCo unveiled plans to spend billions reducing the amount of sugar in its soft drinks, but many drinks will still contain more than an adult's entire daily allowance and the measures won't be implemented until 2025. Campaigners say the plans fall far short of what's needed to stem spiralling epidemics of obesity and diabetes around the world.

By 2025 the drinks giant said two thirds of its drinks will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugar per 330ml serving. Currently 40 per cent of its beverages meet the target.

This amounts to six teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar per can - equivalent to the maximum daily amount of added sugar recommended by the NHS for an adult. A child under eleven would exceed their daily allowance as would anyone drinking a 500ml bottle or those drinking one of the products not subject to the 100 calorie target.

“These are good steps. But when we have an obesity crisis, I think there is more that we can be doing,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, an organisation which pushes firms to act more sustainably.

“If a food and beverage company is not looking at nutrition, they are not looking at the direction the world is going in,” Lubber said.

Professor Kelly Brownell, of Duke University, told the Financial Times: “Companies are making changes. Are they trying to do it to help public health? I think not, I just don’t think they want to miss the segment of the population that eats those foods. But at same time they are pushing hard on unhealthy products.”

Registered Nutritionist Kawther Hashem, Researcher at Action on Sugar says, “Whilst we welcome the news, companies including Pepsi need to reduce the amount of sugar and therefore sweetness in their products as a priority and also reduce portion size and market healthier alternatives. Sugar sweetened drinks is the biggest source of sugar, especially for children, which is contributing significantly to record numbers of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. ” 

Last week the World Health Organization called on governments to increase taxes on sugary drinks, saying that lifting prices by a fifth would cut consumption by the same amount. 

An alarming 60 per cent of people in the UK are now overweight or obese, prompting George Osborne to announce a sugar tax earlier this year. Similar policies have been implemented Hungary, and some US cities while Mexico witnessed a 12 per cent decline in fizzy drink sales after it began taxing them.

In 2014 Pepsi and Coca-Cola committed to cut calories consumed from beverages by a fifth over the decade by introducing smaller portion sizes and lower-sugar options.

Pepsi also pledged to reduce levels of saturated fat and salt as part of the sustainability targets unveiled on Monday.