Tesco’s sugar slash provokes retailer pressure

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

All supermarkets have been urged to cut added sugars in soft drinks
All supermarkets have been urged to cut added sugars in soft drinks

Related tags: Soft drinks, Sucrose, Nutrition, Food

Anti-sugar campaigners have called on the UK’s biggest retailers to follow Tesco’s lead and slash sugar across their own-label soft drinks ranges.

Tesco announced earlier this week that it would become the first retailer to cut added sugars by 5% incrementally a year in all of its own-label soft drinks.

Action on Sugar (AoS) welcomed Tesco’s announcement and urged health secretary Jeremy Hunt to enforce the strategy across the whole of the food and drink industry.

Allowing the food and drink industry to police itself was not working, AoS chairman Professor Graham MacGregor said. “Jeremy Hunt can no longer ignore the fact that the current nutrition policy … is not working.

“The UK requires the implementation of this coherent strategy, starting by setting incremental sugar reduction targets for soft drinks across the whole sector.

‘Incremental, unobtrusive’

What Tesco is doing:

  • Removing all added sugar from its children’s own-label drinks
  • Reformulating own-label full sugar products
  • Working towards the removal of all added sugar from its mainstream squash
  • Focus more on water, squash and flavoured water to promote healthier lives

“Incremental, unobtrusive reformulation is the key way of reducing calories across all sweetened drinks,” ​he added.

“Merely having the option of ‘diet’ or ‘no sugar’ products does not work, particularly for the most socially deprived.”

Reducing sugar in consumers’ diets gradually would allow them to get used to lower sweetness levels without noticing, he added.

This method had been pushed by Consensus Action on Salt and Health to reduce the amount of salt in foods, according to MacGregor.

Salt intake in the UK fell by 15% between 2001 and 2011, with most supermarkets making a 20–40% reduction in their products over the same period.

‘40% reduction in all foods’

MacGregor added: “This is the start of a coherent reformulation programme that will result in a 40% reduction in all food and drinks with added sugars.

“This reduction in calorie intake will reverse or halt the obesity epidemic and will also have a significant impact in reducing the burden of chronic disease.”

However, British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington defended the sector, which he claimed had already managed to make major sugar reductions.

“Since 2012, there’s been a 7.3% reduction in average calorie content across the soft drinks category, thanks to the efforts of major companies in the sector and retailers.”

Meanwhile, Tesco announced plans to use average nutrient profiles of foods​ within shoppers’ baskets to inform its new product development.

The move would also provide targeted health eating advice and marketing strategies to benefit consumers.

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9 comments

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Good

Posted by RaidenRaidenovitchRaikov,

@AndrewM there are many healthy natural sweeteners such as stevia and trehalose.

Trehalose even prevents beta-amyloid accumulation and extends the lifespan of worms.

It occurs in mushrooms such as Shiitake, and only seems to be used in Japan.

It is a sugar (a disaccaharide) but it has none of the ill effects of glucose, fructose, maltose etc.

Once you realise that things like Dark Chocolate are far better for you than Milk Chocolate, it starts to add up: high sugar is bad for you, fatty foods really aren't.

Even lower fat nuts like almonds are 50% fat. Yet they consistently come through population-based studies with flying colours.

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Sugar Replacement

Posted by James Sweetman,

Sugar is an addictive substance. Most of us are addicted to some degree. Gradual sugar reduction is a good strategy but risks the loss of consumer appeal. Sugar replacement by a highly satisfying virtually zero calory and 100% natural sweetener is needed. Thaumatin has this effect. Sadly today the main commercial thaumatin suppliers are paying little heed to exploitive procurement practices from the wild resource of the West Africa Tropical Humid forest zone. After 25 years of observations we can show that thaumatin for the world market can be resourced from crops cultivated under rubber trees. Work needs to start now.

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Consumer Choice

Posted by Geof I,

Consumers (like myself) may prefer the taste of sugar (a natural product) to that of artificial sweeteners.

I personally can taste artificial sweetener in drinks and products with it leaving a bitter aftertaste in the mouth.

Clearly the consumer choice is for sugar, as is shown in the difference in sales volumes between sugared and artificially sweetened drinks/products, despite no cost differences.

This is more a case of education and information than 'nanny state' sugar taxes, or imposed retailer conditions. If i don't like the taste I wont buy it, healthier or not. What however I do do is try to control the amount of highly sugared products I consume.

In most cases its a simple equation;

if Calories In < Calories out (excersize) then weight gain surely follows and subsequent related illnesses. The quicker people in general realise this and importantly action it the quicker we will have a generally healthy populace.

Too many people sit behind perceived illnesses or other to justify weight gain.

Personally I have a genuine diagnosed, and under permanent treatment, thyroid problem (Hypothyroid) however this has not affected my weight due to diligence in my diet and managed treatment, and I still enjoy what I want when I want it.

Come on people face up to some personal accountability fro what you feed yourself and lets not let others take control (whether retailers or government) on our behalf.

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