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World Medical Association urges governments to introduce sugar tax.

Posted On: 14/11/19 Posted by: Mark Barber

World Medical Association urges governments to introduce sugar tax. Could it affect the hospitality industry?

Sugar is famously bad for you. Authorities around the world are starting to take note of the extent to which sugar contributes to cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and issues with bone density. Consumers are now looking for their sweet fix elsewhere. A movement that’s taken hold over the last ten years, leaving producers of fizzy drinks, snacks and other foodstuffs to start searching for healthier ways (like dates) to sweeten their products. As a result, global demand for sugar is in steady decline. The wholesale price of the commodity is down by 32% in 2019 alone and consumers across Europe, America and Australia are opting for ever-healthier options.

Nothing tells the story better than declining consumption of soft drinks. Over the last decade, Coca Cola UK has noted a plunge in the volume of its sugar-laden fizzy drinks consumed nationally. The winner? Carbonated water, as old players and new brands alike have helped grow the sector into a £200 million industry with upwards of 50% of consumers aged 16 – 34 drinking flavoured sparkling water in the last 3 months.

How the sugar tax works in the UK & the US

Policymakers across the world have recognized that sugar-related illnesses put a strain on healthcare services, all at a significant cost to society. In recent years, governments have decided to introduce what most call a ‘sugar tax.’ The sugar tax is a cost added to sweetened drinks, which in the UK ranges from 18-24 pence per litre, dependent on how much sugar is in the drink.

How Sugar Tax Works in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom enforces the same sugar tax policy across the whole country. It was introduced in April 2018 under the name the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) with any drink containing more than 8g of sugar per 100ml taxed at 24p per litre; while drinks containing between 5-8g of sugar per 100ml charged a levy of 18p per litre. The only exemptions apply to fruit juices that contain natural sugars; or, drinks with at least 75% milk that have a high calcium content, thus making them healthier on balance.

How Sugar Tax Works in the United States

Americans commonly refer to the sugar tax as the soda tax. Given it isn’t a state-enforced levy, local governments can choose to place any charge they like on sweetened drinks leading to different taxes depending on the jurisdiction.

For example, all four California jurisdictions choose to charge a 1-cent levy per ounce of sweetened drink, whereas Boulder, Colorado, charges 2-cents per ounce – while the levy might sound modest, it can cause drink prices to spike by upwards of 75% of the original cost.

Why do we need a sugar tax?

Over 35 national governments now have sugar taxes – following in the wake of pioneers Hungary, which introduced a levy in 2011— with 20 new international levies introduced since 2015. The shift in policy is the result of a 2015 World Health Organisation publication that recommended adults and children reduce their daily sugar consumption to less than 10% of their daily energy intake – a significant ask bearing in mind that, in the developed world, a rate of 15-25% is common.

The WHO is confident such a change in diet will reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and tooth decay. Given cases of obesity alone have nearly tripled since 1975 – with over 39% of adults over 18 years old now classified as overweight – sugar taxation seems long overdue.

The new levy has spurred many manufacturers into action as 50% of producers (Including IRN-BRU maker AG Barr) have now changed their drinks recipes to be lower sugar. Perhaps, venue operators should do the same, and rethink the recipes of their soft drink offerings.

How can venues manage the decline in soft drink consumption?

On average, in the UK, soft drinks contribute 25% of an adult’s added sugar intake; or, four additional teaspoons of sugar, per day, from fizzy pop alone. This unnecessary consumption of added sugars is triggering conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, and bone density problems. Estimates suggest diabetes will cost the NHS upwards of £17 billion a year over the next 25 years, unless consumers change their habits.

The sugar tax covers some of the costs, but that’s not the intention. The levy is focused on reducing overall consumption of sugar, and a government assessment proves manufacturers are taking action. Still, there’s work to be done as venues could join the trend and offer alternative low-sugar offerings. The Purezza sparkling water system is a simple way to satisfy customers’ fizzy, yet low-sugar cravings: simply add fresh ingredients to Purezza sparkling water to create an array of iced teas, detox beverages, even sparkling iced coffees.

Purezza systems also offer customers premium sparkling water on-tap, delivering great-tasting chilled water straight to the table in Purezza-branded glass bottles. It’s the perfect option for venues looking to drive profitability as much as satisfy consumer demand, delivering endless sparkling water, tapped straight from your mains supply.

Get in touch with a Purezza representative to revitalise your beverage options today: these hassle-free systems are the most dynamic way to keep pace with ever-evolving consumer demands.

Interested in serving Purezza at your venue?

You can now find Purezza in over 8,000 venues across North America, Europe, and Australia. The key to our success lies in our extensive range of Purezza products that allow restaurants, cafes, function centres and hospitality venues to turn a healthy margin by selling premium still and sparkling water on-site.

Contact us to find out more or talk to a Purezza expert today to find the right product for your venue.