There has been a 16% reduction in sugar intake from soft drinks over the last four years despite a marginal increase in volumes, according to the British Soft Drinks Association’s (BSDA) annual report.
The BSDA reported that, since 2012, every soft drink category has contributed to reducing consumers’ sugar intake – most notably carbonated drinks, which cut the amount of sugar used by 17%, and dilutables, where sugar levels fell by 35%. Almost 60% of soft drinks consumption is now accounted for by low- or no-calorie beverages, with carbonated soft drinks and bottled water the two largest categories, BSDA said.
Between 2012 and 2014, UK soft drinks manufacturers increased their advertising spend on low- and no-calorie drinks by 70%.
Greater availability of smaller pack sizes, such as 250ml cans, has boosted their popularity by around a quarter since 2011.
The report also found that, in 2015, sales of bottled water in the UK were up 8% from around 2 billion litres to over 2.5 billion.
BSDA has said that the findings highlight the soft drinks industry’s commitment towards its customers, and called it “the only food and drink category with an ambitious plan to reduce calorie intake from its products by 20% by 2020”.
“Soft drinks companies have been engaged in calorie reduction initiatives for many years but, since 2012, industry action has stepped up considerably,” said BSDA director-general Gavin Partington.
“The soft drinks industry continues to lead the way in reducing sugar and calorie intake from its products. It’s worth bearing in mind that soft drinks account for only 3% of calories (5% for teenagers) in the average UK diet.
“We recognise we have a role to play in tackling the challenge of obesity and we are taking action. However, we are only likely to have a real impact in the UK if we move beyond one product or ingredient and adopt a holistic approach that addresses overall diet and lifestyle.”
BSDA acknowledges that there was still work to be done in a number of areas.
Soft drinks manufacturers can build on their work in limiting advertising to under-16s by ensuring that they do not advertise on social media or other online channels, where young people are more likely to be present; produce “advergames” – or playable advertising – designed for under-16s; advertise within 100m of a school; nor advertise or sponsor sporting and music events where children are likely to be unaccompanied by an adult.
The industry can also further its progress on calorie reduction by continuing to innovate, adopting creative recipe changes, widening the availability of portion-controlled packs, and further investing in advertising for no- and low-calorie products.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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