RIVM study reveals dramatic drop in sugar consumption from fresh drinks across the Netherlands

Dutch people are consuming less and less sugar through non-alcoholic drinks, according to the Food Consumption Survey 2019-2021 (VCP) published last month by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

The share of sugar consumed through cookies, sweets and dairy, on the other hand, has remained virtually the same, according to the same study. The figures published by the RIVM raise even more questions about the impending increase in the tax on – and exclusively – non-alcoholic drinks.

“The figures published by the RIVM show that the efforts of the fresh drinks sector to get Dutch people to consume more consciously and healthily are having the desired results. The figures now published show that non-alcoholic drinks were responsible for 15% of sugar intake in our country in the period 2019-2021. In the period 2012-2016 this was still 25%,” says Taco Jurian, director of the Dutch association of Soft Drinks, Waters and Juices (FWS).

“The contribution of non-alcoholic drinks to sugar intake has therefore fallen by 31% during this period. This is in line with our commitment to the National Prevention Agreement that we signed as a sector in 2018.” By comparison: sugar and sweets, cakes and pastries together contribute 25.8% to sugar intake, a figure that has only fallen a few percent in recent years.

The RIVM publishes the results of the Food Consumption Survey at a striking time.

Jurian noted on January 1, 2024, the consumption tax on non-alcoholic drinks increased by 196%.

“State Secretary Van Rij maintains that he is introducing this tax increase to encourage a healthy lifestyle, but the figures now published confirm what we have been saying for some time: this measure is inadequate, ill-considered and ineffective. For example, sugar and sweets, cookies and pastries are left out of the picture, even though this category contributes to more than a quarter of sugar intake.

“People consume another fifth of the sugars through dairy. And it is precisely those two groups of products that, according to the figures published by the RIVM, are making little progress when it comes to reducing their share in the sugar intake of Dutch consumers.”

Jurian and FWS are not the only ones who are protesting against the way in which this tax has now been worked out. There is a lot of resistance from artisanal fruit growers, producers of plant-based dairy drinks and various social organisations.

“Of course these are parties with a certain interest,” Juiaanse acknowledges, “just like we have as a trade association. But both the House of Representatives and the Senate have recently majority opposed the measure in this form. And now the RIVM has come up with these figures.

“In our view, the State Secretary has no choice but to hasten the introduction of a broad sugar tax, with all products containing a lot of sugar being taxed. This concerns soft drinks, but also cakes, sweets, chocolate and dairy drinks. Then you ensure that excessive sugar intake is reduced across the board and you do not have to apply excessive rates on one product group.”

Related content

Leave a reply

Food and Drink Technology