PHE SUGAR REDUCTION PROGRESS REPORT

25 September 2019

Public Health England (PHE) reports the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has exceeded its initial target, achieving a 28.8% sugar reduction.

The levy, which saw reformulation across most soft drinks, has proved an effective way of cutting down on sugar. Not only has it reduced the sugar content of soft drinks, there has been a clear consumer shift towards zero or lower sugar products, with the amount of sugar purchased from soft drinks decreasing in all socio-economic groups. Overall, 30,133 tonnes of sugar were removed without reducing soft drink sales, resulting in around 37.5 billion fewer kilocalories sold in sugary drinks each year.

The PHE second-year report also shows the progress made by the food industry to voluntarily reduce sugar in everyday foods. The report concludes an overall 2.9% reduction from retailers and manufacturers since 2015. Some products have achieved a greater reduction in sugar content than others, with some categories, such as sweets and puddings, actually rising by 0.6% and 0.5% respectively. It is apparent that the challenges vary from category to category, but the government must ensure that the momentum continues across the food industry.

The results indicate that mandatory measures encourage greater reformulation success compared to voluntary ones, which provide little incentive to companies. Although the report shows some encouraging progress from the food industry, a lot more needs to be done to reduce sugar in order to reach the 20% reduction target. The next progress report is due in the first half of 2020 and we hope to see more sectors of the industry step up to the challenge and providing healthier options to consumers.

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