Coca-Cola UK & Ireland general manager Jon Woods joined a number of industry voices at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) conference recently, calling for the tax to be shelved.
He argued that the sugar levy – that will be introduced in April 2018 – will serve as a “distraction” from efforts by soft drinks firms to switch to lower calorie products.
Woods also claimed that the tax would be another hurdle for businesses who now have to adjust their businesses to life outside of the EU.
“It's bad for business at a time when we should be freeing our businesses from red tape and bureaucracy,” he said on Tuesday July 5. “A sugar tax won't reduce obesity because it's bad policy.
‘Barrier to doing business’
“It's just another barrier to doing business and it's bad for consumers. Shopping bills are going to go up as a result of it.”
Obesity rates “kept going up” despite a fall in soft drinks sales by 44% between 2004 and 2014, according to Woods.
Woods’s comments come as Coca-Cola launched a £10M marketing campaign to rebrand its Coke Zero range as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.
Britain leading the way
He said the investment in the rebranding strategy was evidence of Britain leading the way in encouraging consumers to switch from high to low or no calorie drinks.
Meanwhile, FDF boss Ian Wright argued that the levy was conceived before the historic vote to quit the EU.
“All the work that has been done is from the assumption that we are part of the EU,” said Wright. “At the very least, the consultation has to restart.”
“So I believe implementation of the proposed Apprenticeships Levy and the Sugar Levy – and any other fresh burdens – should both now be put on hold.”
Wright also revealed a six-point plan for the food and drink manufacturing sector to ease the transition to business life after Brexit.