With the sharp realities of the sugar tax fully setting in this year and with the government’s recent announcement that they want to cut Britain’s calorie consumption by 20% by 2024, where are all the positives in the red tape and regulations? We hear from producers who have seen these changes as more of an opportunity than a challenge and they are already starting to see sweet success.With the sharp realities of the sugar tax fully setting in this year and with the government’s recent announcement that they want to cut Britain’s calorie consumption by 20% by 2024, where are all the positives in the red tape and regulations? We hear from producers who have seen these changes as more of an opportunity than a challenge and they are already starting to see sweet success.
The Food and Drink Expo exhibitor halls will be full of sugar savvy companies waiting to introduce visitors to their reduced, low or no sugar products. We asked them how the sugar tax has been affecting business and whether it would really help the health of the country in the long run.
“It’s a highly anticipated moment,” says Gemma Pond, Founder of no&more infused spring water, “and for some it will hit the bottom line harder than others, but for us it will be business as usual. We would all acknowledge that there is a problem with the volume of sugar in soft drinks in the UK given the levels of increased obesity and the impact that has on our health. The typical UK adult consumes 20% of their sugar intake from soft drinks and for teenagers that percentage doubles to 40%.”
Meanwhile, Bilal Ahmed from Double Apple saw the introduction of the sugar tax as the perfect time to launch his new product. “From the very start I wanted to create a healthy soft drink with no added sugar,” he says, “and I was presented with an opportunity in the shape of the sugar tax. I launched Dapple – The Double Apple Drink in March 2018 and I have received very positive feedback from retailers and customers. What better time to launch a no added sugar drink, eh?”
And Caroline Beer from Boka cereal bars sees the tax as nothing but a good thing “It has not affected us as our products have always been low in sugar, if anything the awareness of sugar consumption and for some people the need to decrease the amount of sugar they consume has helped.”
So, with a distinct rise in customer awareness of sugar intake and the emerging desire to consume more healthily, companies such as no&more, Boka and Double Apple are definitely seeing a healthy return. But is the sugar tax enough?
Are there still challenges?
Gemma Pond identifies a difficulty that still remains for the emerging no-to-low sugar content producers. She says, “The challenge is no-sugar products generally cost more. The soft drinks market is dominated by the big players and it is profits that drive their business. They have the marketing power and so they have the premium sales positioning in store as well as ATL presence. It’s not a fight the little guys can win. Unfortunately adding a few pennies to a can of fizzy drink won’t deter the producers or the consumers. Even if the cost is incurred by the brand it won’t be enough to change the market, as long as there is a demand the supply will continue.”
Will sugar tax make a difference to the health of the country?
“100% Definitely Yes!” says Double Apple, Bilal Ahmed, “our buyers and consumers are definitely responding to the shift in demand in the no sugar market and why not?!”
“Yes, we believe it will reduce the amount of sugar consumed as the reduction in salt initiatives have done which started in 2002,” says Caroline Beer whose Boka cereal bars are the first of their kind to achieve all four green traffic lights on their front of pack nutritional labelling.
Tipping the scales even further
Meanwhile, no&more’s Gemma Pond thinks there is still work to be done. In her blog, Gemma strikes upon a clever solution that could go one step further than sugar taxation. She ponders: “Isn’t it also time to introduce a kite mark for truly healthy and clean products that contain no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives and are low in calories so people are better informed? So many drinks are so often billed as sporty, healthy, energetic, cool or fruity, but the reality is they contain large quantities of sugar and sweeteners.
“A kite mark would help consumers navigate the products they’d rather avoid. The government could then reduce the VAT on healthy soft drinks that meet this standard – from 20% to something like 5%. That would serve as an incentive for the whole industry to aim for the kite mark and improve the healthiness of their products. It’s a passion of mine and I’m determined to lobby for change. Changing habits takes time, but these moves could make a real, lasting transformation to helping working mums like me avoid buying drinks that contain too much sugar and too little goodness.”
Why not come and sample our passionate exhibitors’ tasty and healthy products and chat about the benefits and limitations of the sugar tax in person at the following locations?: