DRINK COMPANIES PLEDGE SUGAR REDUCTION BUT HEALTH CALL FOR MORE

The Australian Beverages Council, which is the peak body, for the non-alcoholic beverages industry, has announced its members' intention to reduce the amount of sugar in their products by 20 per cent by 2025.

Companies like Coca-Cola Amatil, PepsiCo and Fructor Suntory will apply this reduction across a range of drinks including carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, juice and fruit drinks and ready-to-drink coffees in a bid, it is claimed, to support "healthier lifestyles".

While the Beverages Council is hailing the move, progress on which will be evaluated by an independent auditor, as an "historic commitment to reduce sugar across the industry", other groups, particularly those in the health and medical fields have called for more extensive reductions.

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance, which includes the ADA, has said that it would prefer to see more genuine reformulation efforts, adding that "the pledge is not a meaningful change in strategy for drinks companies."

Craig Sinclair, a spokesperson for Rethink Sugary Drink has stated:

"The pledge will be measured by aggregated sales volume, this means no real reformulation will be required, just greater sales of lower sugar products. We would like to see some of those popular and very high sugar drinks being genuinely reformulated. For example, a 600 ml of Coca-Cola contains 16 teaspoons of sugar, even a 20% sugar decrease would still mean more than 12 teaspoons of sugar – which is still over the daily World Health Organisation recommendation.

"This is clearly a pre-emptive move by the industry to delay further discussion about a health levy on sugary drinks."

In preference to this industry initiative, Rethink Sugary Drink is calling on the Federal Government to implement a 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle poor oral health and obesity-related issues.