Sugar tax brings further sugar reduction in drinks

Sugar tax brings further sugar reduction in drinks

Public Health England (PHE) has published its second-year report on progress made by the food industry to voluntarily reduce sugar in everyday foods. This shows a 28.8% sugar reduction in food brands contributing the most sugar to children’s diets, such as cakes, breakfast cereals and sweets.

The report shows:

  • for retailers and manufacturers, there is an overall 2.9% reduction (sales weighted average sugar per 100g) since 2015
  • for the out of home sector, based on more limited data, there is a 4.9% reduction (simple average sugar per 100g)

However, some food categories have shown greater progress. Retailer own brand and manufacturer branded yogurts and fromage frais, and breakfast cereals have reduced sugar by 10.3% and 8.5% respectively.

The report also looks at progress made under the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL). The data shows:

  • a 28.8% sugar reduction per 100ml in retailer own brand and manufacturer branded products and a 27.2% reduction per 100ml for drinks consumed out of home
  • there was a consumer shift towards zero or lower sugar products, with sugar purchased from soft drinks decreasing in all socio-economic groups
  • 30,133 tonnes of sugar were removed without reducing soft drink sales, resulting in around 37.5 billion fewer kilocalories sold in sugary drinks each year

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said: “We are seeing some encouraging progress from the food industry. Our second year report shows some food categories reducing sugar faster than others but this is realistic at this early stage. We are confident that the industry as a whole understands their responsibility to step up and deliver for children and their families.”

But BDA’s Mick Armstrong commented: “The sugar levy is delivering the goods. It shows hard and fast policy beats volunteerism when it comes to making the food industry change its ways. Ideology must never trump evidence when it comes to public health. Sugar is fuelling both tooth decay and obesity. It is not ‘nanny statism’ to follow tried and tested policies that can help reduce that burden.”


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