Amount of sugar sold in soft drinks drops by 29% in the UK

There was a 29% reduction in the total amount of sugar sold in soft drinks in the UK between 2015 and 2018, despite an increase in sales of soft drinks by volume of 7%, according to new research from the Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention (NDPH).

Lead researcher Lauren Bandy and her colleagues looked at the nutritional information of a range of soft drinks in the UK, including carbonated drinks, concentrates, juice drinks, 100% juice, energy drinks, sports drinks and bottled water, and combined this with sales data from 2015-2018.

Bandy said that although the study is not designed to evaluate the specific effects of the soft drinks industry levy (SDIL), it does show sustained pressure on business, including using fiscal measures, led to a “striking reduction” in the sugar content of soft drinks in the UK.

The research, published inĀ BMC Medicine, shows that individual soft drink companies in the UK are contributing to sugar reduction, with eight out of the top ten companies reducing the sugar content of their products by 15% or more.

The two biggest companies, Coca-Cola and Britvic, had reduced the total quantity of sugars they sold in drinks by 17% and 26% respectively, although the sugar content of their flagship brands Coca-Cola and Pepsi remained unchanged.

There were increases in volume sales of sugars in drinks sold by Innocent and Red Bull; the sugar content of their products was largely unchanged, but the companies had seen increases in overall volume sales.

The analysis shows that 73% of the reduction seen in the amount of sugar sold in soft drinks was due to reformulation of existing products or the introduction of new, lower sugar drinks, and 27% was due to changes in purchasing behaviour.

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