What is the “soft drinks tax”?

From April 2018, a “soft drinks tax” comes into force in the UK.

Soft drinks manufacturers and importers will be required to pay a tax based on the added sugar content of the beverage:

0-5g per 100ml (0p per litre)

5-8g per 100ml (18p per litre)

8g+ per 100m (24p per litre)

Those items included are soft drinks with added sugar and alcoholic drinks with an alcohol volume of up to 1.2%. Items not included are soft drinks with no added sugar, pure fruit juice and soft drinks with 75% milk content.

The introduction of this tax is aimed at reducing the rate of obesity in the UK which is showing a worrying upward trend. The percentage of obese adults in 1993 was 14.9% (1 in 6) and rose to 26.9% in 2014, (1 in 4).

However, The McKinsey Global Institute listed “portion control” and “reformulation” as the two interventions which could have the greatest impact on obesity, in comparison with the soft drinks tax which was listed in the bottom four interventions.

One of the biggest players, Coca-Cola, has stated that they are reformulating (reducing the sugar) in most of their  brands to ensure exemption from the soft drinks tax by April 2018, but they will not be reformulating their Coca-Cola Classic, which they say “represents 125 years of history”.

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