News article

3 September 2015

FDF response to Jamie Oliver and Sustain petition for a sugary drinks tax

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Food and Drink Federation response to:

  • New petition launched by Jamie Oliver, Sustain and Leon calling on Government to tax sugary drinks
  • 'Jamie's Sugar Rush' documentary
  • Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group and Leon Restaurants Ltd adoption of a 10p levy on soft drinks with added sugar

Ian Wright, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation, said:
“We applaud Jamie Oliver's personal commitment to improving public health. Most of us in the food industry have a similar commitment. We agree that change is needed.

“I do find it inconsistent that the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group and Leon Restaurant Group, neither of which provide nutrition labelling on in-store menus or support Government's drive to reduce calories1, have chosen to tax customers choosing soft drinks.

“Additional burdensome taxes on foods or drinks, on top of the already enforced 20% VAT on many foods and drinks, would be regressive, ineffective and unworkable. They are rejected by the public. This complex challenge needs a complex solution, one which involves and empowers people, not taxes them.

“Leading health experts and UK Government support a comprehensive approach to tackling poor health, including balanced diets and physical exercise. Reports suggest that the documentary over-simplifies the obesity challenge which is far more wide-ranging than any single ingredient, food or drink.“

Note to Editors:

Government's Public Health Responsibility Deal

  • Further details of partners in the Department of Health's Public Health Responsibility Deal and how they have delivered on their pledges on alcohol, food, health at work and physical activity.

Sugar consumption in the UK is on a downward trend

  • Government's most recent Family Food Survey suggest that while intakes are above government recommendations, intakes of non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) are on a long-term downward trend, with a 6.1% drop in intakes between 2010 and 2013. (Non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) are similar to 'added' or 'free' sugars and include sugars added by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and honey and unsweetened fruit juice).

Far more low and no calorie soft drinks are sold in the UK than regular

  • 57% of the UK soft drink market is low or zero calorie, 5% mid calorie, 38% regular. (Source: BSDA Annual Report)
  • Soft drink companies have cut calories and sugars by 7% and 8% respectively over the last three years. (Source: Kantar)

Additional taxes on foods and drinks

  • In the UK soft drinks are already taxed at the standard VAT rate of 20%.
  • Both Belgium and Denmark rejected the notion of a tax in 2013 and 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 in 2014, the sector saw a 2.5% fall in sales volumes which has reduced calorie intake from sugar-sweetened beverages by 6.2 calories per person, per day. (Sales figures Dec 2013-14, Asociación Nacional de Productores de Refrescos y Aguas Carbonatadas, A. C. (ANPRAC) and Statistics National Institute (INEGI).

For more Information contact:

FDF press office
020 7420 7140 / 7118.

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