There is currently no long term evidence to suggest that food taxes can reduce obesity or create sustained behaviour change. Obesity is a complex multifactorial issue, with no silver bullet solution.

In April 2018, a UK soft drinks industry levy (SDIL) was introduced for producers and importers of sugar sweetened soft drinks.  Between spring 2012 and spring 2016, prior to the announcement of the levy, manufacturers had already cut sugar from their products by 15.6% (Kantar Worldpanel data).

Any review of the evidence, should account for this long term downward trend. It should also consider that the original policy aim for the SDIL was to reduce childhood obesity. Looking at current data levels, there has been an overall reduction in sugar intakes from drinks, but there has been no reduction in childhood obesity.

The FDF believes that reformulation policies should remain voluntary, any taxes on foods will not help companies to find solutions to complex technical issues, but may divert investment away from innovation.


SDIL - Additional drinks now in scope

The scope of drinks liable for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has been slightly expanded.

The definition of a liable soft drink has been extended to include packaged concentrates which are mixed with sugar when dispensed from a soft drink fountain (dispensing) machine. This measure will take effect from 1 April 2023.

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Revenue from Soft Drinks Levy 2020 - 2021

HMRC has published new statistics on receipts, liabilities and volume for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Provisional year to date receipts so far for April to September 2021 are £152 million, higher than that collected in the same period in 2020 (£143 million).

Update on food and drink taxes

Currently, milk based drinks are exempt from the soft drinks levy. However, in 2021, HM Treasury will review progress on the sugar reduction ambition in this category and decide whether this exemption should continue.

In 2018, the soft drinks levy came into force. The levy is aimed at producers and importers of soft drinks, with the rates differencing depending in the amount of total sugars in the drinks. The rates are; 5g to >8g sugars/100ml = 18p per litre and 8g or over sugars/100ml = 24p per litre.

In October 2020, HMRC published statistics on receipts, liabilities and volume for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Provisional receipts for April to September 2020 were £143 million, lower than that collected during the same period in 2019 (£163 million).


National Food Strategy Part II Report - Update

FDF’s Chief Scientific Officer, Kate Halliwell responds to the publication of the second part of the National Food Strategy report.

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Report: Celebrating Food and Nutrition

07 April 2022

Showcasing the work of UK food and drink manufacturers to support the nation's health by improving the nutritional status of their products and offering consumers a wide variety of options to support sustainable, balanced diets.

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Reformulation case studies

Guidance: Reformulation guide - Spotlight on sugars

01 August 2016

This guidance sets out regulatory considerations for sugars reduction, outlines available sugar replacers and factors affecting consumer acceptance of sugar replacers.

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