I set out to write a piece about sugary drinks, the validity of the ‘Sugar Tax’ and what it would mean for consumers in the UK. It already means a lot for businesses, who are pondering how to either absorb and/or pass those costs on to consumers.
You’re free to join in on the fun by renting a catering kitchen and making your own line of sugary drinks to get in on the experience, but I believe you’d be better off starting a sugar-free business. I mean, we really don’t need more of the stuff!
Sugary Drinks & Google
So, I thought I’d start out by deploying my well-refined and expert research methods that I honed during eight years of studying at university; I typed in the search term ‘sugary drinks’ into Google.
Do you know what the first hit returned was? It wasn’t a news report about the reported obesity epidemic; it was a Google Ad encouraging me to buy Coca-Cola. Wow. Was Google part of a conspiracy to cover this up?
So I deleted that term out and typed in ‘sugar in drinks’ because I wanted my research to be objective and not influenced by sensationalised media; the same advert stared back at me. Now, the algorhythmics amongst you may say that this says more about my search history than Google’s persuasion towards the Sugar Tax but it certainly emphasised the issue for me.
The Sugar Tax
The NHS has estimated that the new measures which come into play this year will ‘help reduce obesity cases in the UK by 150,000 per year, as well as reducing cases of tooth decay by 250,000’ (2016). It’s hard to deny the problem and the Sugar Tax is coming; but what does it mean for the industry and us as consumers?
Purearth & Charbrew
I abandoned my fruitless (and sugary) road that Google led me down and picked up with two industry experts for their insight: Jodie Brandman at Purearth, the functional kefir brand, and Adam Soliman, founder of Charbrew the all-natural ice tea brand.
I’m not quite sure where I stand on the idea of a Nanny State dishing out rations but Jodie is definitely in the pro camp stating that ‘the government and outside agencies are doing a lot more to tackle the rising obesity and diabetes rates in the UK so people are becoming a lot more aware of the impact of food on health’.
Whilst this is true Adam believes this is only the first step on a long journey: ‘as data is gathered over the next few years I feel it is inevitable that the sugar tax will be increased annually and become similar to the alcohol and tobacco taxes which increase year on year above inflation to discourage consumption and increase revenues for the government’.
Despite the Tax undoubtedly being a positive step, Adam questions to what extent this will influence consumer behaviour: ‘I believe at the moment the mass of consumers don’t want anything else instead, they are happy buying the cheapest products in the market which unfortunately are still full of sugar’. Jodie, however, thinks that the move may catalyse a ‘move towards more functional food and drinks, and also less alcoholic beverages’.
So, from the perspective of the consumer, the Sugar Tax should lead to a wider and more informed choice when it comes to soft drinks; but what about manufacturers, how should they react to this change?
Over To Our Experts…
Jodie’s Purearth kefir is working with the changes to offer consumers ‘a great alternative to alcohol, plus it’s got the functional benefits in that it’s designed to support gut health’. Adam’s Charbrew Ice Tea provides ‘a healthy indulgence with a sweetness that’s derived from the fruit’s own sugar. Charbrew is the only product in the UK market offering an all-natural ice tea.’
The Sugar Tax is coming and we should welcome it with open arms but not just because we want to be healthier, we should do it because we deserve more from our drinks. Now hear my plea: let’s not feel restricted by the impending Sugar Tax, let’s see this as an opportunity. An opportunity to break free of our narrow, big corporation prisons that have dictated our drinking habits for too long. An opportunity to venture to try new drinks that don’t need sugar to mask the flavour. Let’s get right behind this Sugar Tax!