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FDF holds anti-soft drinks levy stance despite member apathy

Matt Atherton

By Matt Atherton+

02-Dec-2016
Last updated on 02-Dec-2016 at 12:15 GMT2016-12-02T12:15:58Z

The Food and Drink Federation said it still opposes the proposed soft drinks levy (Flickr/Catalin Besleaga)
The Food and Drink Federation said it still opposes the proposed soft drinks levy (Flickr/Catalin Besleaga)

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has maintained that a soft drinks sugar tax wouldn’t improve public health, after some of its members claimed they have “no position” on the levy.

Six FDF members – including Allied Bakeries and Birds Eye – said they held no formal position on the proposed soft drinks levy, it was revealed in a survey published today (December 2) from pressure group Children’s Food Campaign.

While the FDF “strongly agrees that action is needed to tackle obesity”, it said the levy was “not a proven tool for sustained calorie reduction in the national diet”.

An FDF spokesman said: “There has been no change in FDF’s position on the proposed Soft Drinks Industry Levy.  We continue to believe that there is no persuasive evidence that fiscal measures of this sort will achieve their stated public health goals.

‘Appropriate representations’

“We will study the draft [legislation] with great interest and will continue to make appropriate representations in support of the positions outlined [by FDF members].”

FDF was responding to a Children’s Food Campaign survey of 55 FDF members, which revealed 43% held no stance on the proposed soft drinks levy. The FDF should back the government’s “effective policy championed in the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan”, claimed the pressure group.

Children’s Food Campaign co-ordinator Malcolm Clark said: “The FDF’s aggressive lobbying against the sugary drinks tax is a retrograde step, which even some of its own members are shying away from.

‘Aggressive lobbying’

“Instead of opposing the tax, FDF could be helping more companies to follow the lead of Tesco and Lucozade Ribena Suntory, and commit to reduce the sugar in all of their soft drinks below the 5g per 100ml threshold that would trigger the tax.”

The soft drinks levy will be included in the Treasury’s draft Finance Bill on Monday (December 5). The proposed tax will go before Parliament in spring 2017.

 

FDF members’ responses to soft drinks levy survey
  • No formal position – Allied Bakeries, Birds Eye, Tilda, Slimfast, Nairns, Batchelors
  • Backed FDF’s stance – Wrigley, Mondelēz International/Cadbury, Mars, Weetabix
  • No formal position, but referred to FDF – McCain Foods