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Press releases

17 August 2016

BSDA's response to the Soft Drinks Tax Consultation and the Childhood Obesity Strategy

BSDA’s response to the Government’s Soft Drinks Tax Consultation and the Childhood Obesity Strategy

Gavin Partington, BSDA Director General, said:

“Given the economic uncertainty our country now faces we’re disappointed the Government wishes to proceed with a measure which analysis suggests will cause thousands of job losses and yet fail to have a meaningful impact on levels of obesity.

“As an industry we recognise we have a role to play in tackling obesity, so it’s a sad irony that the one category that has led the way in reducing consumers’ sugar intake – down 16% from soft drinks since 2012 – is being targeted for a punitive tax.

“Our action on reformulation and smaller pack sizes is clearly working and in 2015 we became the only category to set a voluntary calorie reduction target of 20% by 2020.  We also voluntarily extended the advertising rules regarding under 16s to all online media.

“We’ll share the evidence during this consultation in the hope Ministers reconsider a measure that is both unnecessary and harmful to the economy.”


Notes to editors

  • Independent analysis shows the soft drinks tax will lead to over 4,000 job losses across the UK and a decline of £132 million in the UK economy. Research indicates that most of these job loses will come in retail and hospitality, including pubs and smaller shops. (Oxford Economics, August 2016)
  • The new soft drinks industry levy will cost the taxpayer £1 billion in its first year (page 8)
  • There is no evidence that food taxes have an effect on obesity. In 2013, Denmark scrapped its fat tax because of its economic impact and abandoned plans for a tax on sugar.  Evidence from France shows that while sales of soft drinks initially fell after a tax was introduced in 2012 they have increased since. In Mexico the impact of a soft drinks tax saw a reduction of only 6 fewer calories a day, per person in a diet of over 3,000.
  • Sugar intake from soft drinks has been reduced by 16.2% since 2012. (Kantar Worldpanel, May 2016)
  • The Defra Family Food Survey (Dec 2015) shows that purchases of regular soft drinks fell by 32% between 2010 and 2014, whilst low calorie drinks purchases increased by more than a third.
  • According to Government NDNS data published in 2014 soft drinks account for 3% of calories in the average UK diet.
  • Almost 60% (58%) of soft drinks now sold in the UK are low and no calorie (BSDA annual report, July 2016)
  • Public Health England used NDNS data to set its recommendations using 2012 data therefore omits the positive calorie and sugar reduction from soft drinks over the last four years.