Australia’s Soft Drink Industry Promises to Cut Back on Overall Sugar

Coca Cola and Pepsi promise to cut back on sugar by 20%

The country’s biggest soft drink makers including Coca-Cola and Pepsi have vowed to slash their use of sugar by 20 per cent over the next seven years in a bid to tackle Australia’s obesity epidemic.

But the highest-sugar varieties of drinks such as Coke will remain unchanged, with the plan largely focusing on efforts to produce and market low-sugar alternatives, and reduce serving sizes.

There is no guarantee within the commitment outlined that any individual soft drink product would be required to reduce its sugar content.

According to Australian doctors, thi is just an attempt to escape the real problem

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has been leading calls for the Government to discourage the consumption of sugary drinks by imposing a tax on them.

AMA president Tony Bartone said the soft drink industry was trying to distract from those calls.

“This is an attempt to try and perhaps muddy the waters in terms of creating a … diversion from the real issue,” Dr Bartone said.

The council’s chief executive Geoff Parker said the industry would cut sugar content by 10 per cent by 2020, and by another 10 per cent five years later, “without having a negative impact on taste”.

Australian Beverages Council chief executive Geoff Parker

More than 80 per cent of the non-alcoholic beverage industry had signed up to the agreement, he said, including energy drink maker Frucor Suntory and Asahi Beverages, which owns Schweppes.

“We consume too much sugar in our soft drinks,

we consume too much soft drinks in total.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, who joined the industry for the announcement in Canberra, described it as “in my knowledge, the most significant change in food or beverage formulation in Australia”, and promised it would reduce sugar consumption.

“As a country, we can help tackle the obesity epidemic through the practice of industry, through participation, and with the support of government,” he said.

“If you can work with the industry and get an outcome such as this, you get exactly the outcome we all want: healthier products, healthier children, and healthier adults.”

Mr Hunt dismissed suggestions the move was an attempt to placate proponents of the sugar tax.

“That’s not something we’ve supported, I know there are others that take that approach, whether it’s in other countries, [or those] who advocate for it here, but we don’t want to see the price of groceries go up; we want to see the cost of living continue to have downwards pressure on it,” Mr Hunt said.

“Nothing to do with sugar tax”

Mr Parker said the move would be “quite costly” and “really hard” for drink manufacturers but it had “nothing to do” with warding off a sugar tax – which has been introduced in Britain and is backed by the Greens in Australia, but opposed by the two major parties.

“The sugar tax that we’ve called for has been shown to work in other countries.”

Mr Parker said the high-sugar versions of drinks such as Coke would “absolutely” still be available. “This is about choice,” he said.

Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Alison Watkins said the company was on-track to meet its existing promise to cut the sugar content across its sales by 10 per cent by 2020, and looked forward to “delivering on today’s pledge as well”.

Author: Group Features Editor

James is the Group Features Editor for Agenda Daily managing the business, entertainment, lifestyle, technology and travel sections. After completing a degree in law, he decided that writing was his first love and has been a journalist for over three years working in magazines, TV, radio and online.

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