Drinks giants hit out at Osborne’s sugar tax

Coca-Cola, Britvic and Vimto-maker Nichols fight back

The bosses of some of the world’s biggest drinks companies have hit out at the sugar tax announced in the Budget, saying it won’t help to cut obesity.

The levy on sugary drinks will come into effect in April 2018 and will see the price of drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml rise by 18p a litre.

This would add 6p to the price of a 330ml can of pop.

Drinks company shares fell on the announcement, however, other countries where a sugar tax has been implemented have had mixed results, so there’s no guarantee drinks firms are going to be worse off in the long-term.

Coca-Cola’s UK boss, Leendert den Hollander, said the company didn’t believe the sugar tax is a right move.

“We are not debating the issue, we are debating the solution. The facts don’t suggest that a sugar tax works to change behaviour,” he said.

“We know this is one of the mechanics and solutions that people think will help deal with the issue of obesity, at least from a government perspective, but there is no evidence to suggest that this will reduce obesity.”

Vimto and Panda drinks maker Nichols concurred. Marnie Millard, chief executive of Nichols, said: “While we recognise sugar consumption is a shared responsibility, we do not believe that a tax on soft drinks is an effective solution or fair to consumers.”

Britvic said in a statement that it was extremely disappointed about the introduction of the tax, adding: “Singling out soft drinks alone will not solve the obesity problem, given the small proportion of calories they contribute in the average diet.

“We remain of the view that only a holistic, wide-ranging strategy will tackle obesity.”

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