A coalition of soft drinks manufacturers, pubs, off-licences convenience stores, representing thousands of businesses have joined forces to oppose a planned sugar tax before the launch of a government consultation.
The former Chancellor, George Osborne, announced a soft drinks tax in his March Budget, and will result in price rises on popular soft drinks. This decision appears, according to industry observers have been taken based on data from 2012 and does not factor in the significant action taken by companies to reduce sugar consumption from our products in the last four years.
The campaign, which launched today has said the tax will do little to tackle the obesity crisis and cause job losses in the sector.
The campaign, called Face the Facts Can the Tax focuses on statistics from a report published last week by Oxford Economics which claims the levy will cause 4000 redundancies across the retail and hospitality sector. It is set to come into force in 2018.
Other members include the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, the British Soft Drinks Association, Federation of Wholesale Distributors.
According to the Soft Drinks Association, soft drinks producers have helped consumers reduce their sugar intake from soft drinks by 16% since 2012
The rate of sugar reduction in soft drinks has increased year on year – 6.2% in 2015 alone (Kantar Worldpanel, 2016)
The Defra Family Food Survey shows that purchases of regular soft drinks fell by 32% between 2010 and 2014, whilst low calorie drinks purchases increased by more than a third.
This means that in 2014, for every regular drink sold, one diet (no/low sugar drink) was sold. In 2003, for every diet drink sold, three regular drinks were purchased.
Similarly, Kantar data shows that between 2012 and 2015, purchases of low and no calorie carbonated drinks increased by 6.7% while sales of regular carbonates are down by 7.8%. (Kantar Worldpanel, August 2015)
Soft drinks contribute less than 10% of overall sugar (8.8% – down from 10.1% in 2011) and just 2% of calories to the average UK diet (Kantar Worldpanel, 2016)
“Tax is often used by governments to reduce consumption, but in this case there is no credible evidence that a sugar tax will prompt a change in consumer behavior,” British Sugar managing director Paul Kenward told the Telegraph.
Paul Baxter, the head of National Federation of Retail Newsagents stated: “Our members are small business owners that are struggling to make ends meet in a very difficult economy.
“Piling on more ill thought-out policies that will only make things more difficult for retailers while doing nothing to address the serious problem of obesity does not make sense.”