Rather than burdening industry with taxation, the government would be able to achieve more by “taxing at source”, Trevor Newman, supply chain operations director at Coca-Cola European Partners’ Wakefield site has claimed.
“Ultimately, I see it as a choice. I like Coke red, but if I have three cans of it a day and don’t go for a run, then I’m going to pile on a few pounds,” he said.
“It’s the same as having a McDonald’s, or a bar of chocolate. They are all ok – as long as you go to the gym as well.”
Newman’s comments come following the announcement of a sugar tax on soft drinks by the government in March. The tax, which is likely to apply to both producers and importers from April 2018, is intended to raise £500M by its second year of implementation.
Government was misguided
However, Newman believed the government was misguided in making sugar the “be all and end all” in tackling obesity, and suggested that the crisis involved a far greater number of factors.
“It’s a little odd that they would take such a complex problem and isolate it down to the soft drinks industry. Jamie Oliver has had one over the government, hasn’t he?”
In May, Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) rebranded Coke Zero as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to make it clearer to consumers that it was a sugar-free product.
It has also developed a new recipe for Coca-Cola Life, with 45% less sugar than regular colas, which launched in June.
Colour-coded nutrition labels
In addition, CCGB is promoting the government’s voluntary colour-coded nutrition labels on the front of its bottles and cans.
Despite its ongoing attempts to reformulate, market research firm Euromonitor has estimated that the company could face a bill as high as £226M a year under the sugar tax, if it doesn’t pass on the costs to consumers.
Other companies that could face high bills included PepsiCo (£48M), Lucozade Energy owner Suntory Holdings (£46M) and Capri-Sun owner Deutsche SiSi-Werke Betriebs (£29M)
Sugar intake from soft drinks has declined by 13.6% in the UK since 2012, and continued to fall every year, according to Kantar Worldpanel.
Don’t miss our Me and My Factory profile of the manufacturer’s Wakefield site, including how Newman planned to boost efficiency.