Sugar tax: the soft drinks that slashed their sugar ahead of the levy

Some soft drink brands changed their recipes while others are shrinking the size of their bottles – so which did what and by how much?

Shafi Musaddique
Friday 06 April 2018 13:33
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What is sugar tax?

The UK’s first ever sugar tax comes into force on Friday.

Soft drinks manufacturers will have to pay an extra levy on drinks that contain a high amount of sugar, which is expected to bring the Treasury an extra £240m.

Some big name brands slashed their sugar content ahead of the first day of the sugar levy, while others have decided to shrink the size of their bottles and increase prices.

The Treasury estimates that more than half of manufacturers reduced the sugar content in their drinks since plans were first announced in March 2016.

Irn-Bru’s decision to slash its sugar content attracted vocal opposition from some of its customers in Scotland, where its popularity verges on the iconic.

AG Barr, the company that makes Irn-Bru, went ahead with its plan in early 2018 to reduce its sugar content by over half, from 10.3g to 4.7g per 100ml.

Ribena also followed Irn-Bru by slashing its sugar by half ahead of the new levy.

Popular sports drink Lucozade cut its sugar content by two thirds, replacing it with additional sweeteners in a bid to maintain its taste.

It seems customers have yet to come round to the new recipe, with sales down 8.4 per cent year-on-year in November, according to The Grocer.

The biggest behemoth of them all is sticking to its tried and tested formula. Coca-Cola says it won’t change the recipe for standard Coke, with sugar content staying at 10.6g per 100ml, but customers should expect to see 1.75ml Coca-Cola bottles shrink in the UK and its price rise by 20p.

Other varieties of Coca-Cola, such as Zero Sugar and Diet Coke brands, won’t be affected by the new tax.

The overall trend in the drinks industry suggests customers are choosing lower-sugar varieties of soft drinks more than they ever have, with sales of sugary drinks declining rapidly, according to Euromonitor.

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