Maria Ibini Written by Maria Ibini

UK Consumers Unfazed by Sugar Tax!

In April 2018, the ‘Sugar Tax’ came into effect in the UK, in the hope of tackling childhood obesity.  Public Health England imposed the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which added tax onto sugary drinks, thus hiking up prices for manufacturers and consumers.

Since, the ‘Sugar Tax’ has come into force, 50% of beverage manufacturers have actively been working to reduce the sugar content in their drink products. However, a recent report by global information and data measurement company Nielsen, reveals that the UK’s sugar tax is not as effective as the PHE would like to believe.

The findings show that 62% of UK shoppers admit that the ‘Sugar Tax’, since its implementation, has not changed their consumption behaviour.  Added to that, only one in five people check sugar content on packages more frequently than they did before April 2018.

The findings come as a result from a Nielsen survey comparing the behaviour of consumers and shoppers both pre, and prior, to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy coming into force.

Additional results show that 11% of shoppers, who initially planned to stop drinking sugary drinks prior to the tax, has now fallen, post-tax, to just 1%.  Equally the number of shoppers who admitted they would continue to purchase drinks containing sugar has also risen post-tax, increasing from 31% at the beginning of 2018, to 44% in June.

It isn’t just the drinks industry that is under constant scrutiny, last year manufacturers, retailers, cafes, restaurants, and pub chains were told to cut 5% of sugar by August 2017; this figure was to increase to 20% by 2020.  However, Public Health England has said that the food industry failed to hit the suggested targets of cutting sugar by 5%; supermarkets and food manufacturers have only managed to cut out 2% within 12 months.

Many food and drink manufacturers are trying to move in the right direction in working towards implementing these government targets, but reducing sugar in products is no easy task. Head of nutrition and product development at Leatherhead Food Research, Jenny Arthur, previously stated that, “reformulating products is a challenging task, as sugars are multifunctional ingredients delivering a variety of roles in different products.”

Ragus recognises the need for sugars in food and drink products and we specialise in supplying pure sugars as ingredients for many major food manufacturers; we also offer bespoke products to fulfil the individual needs of all our clients.

At Ragus we know there are so many reasons as to why sugars are needed in certain food and drink products. Not only is sugar important as it contributes to flavour when interacting with other ingredients, it also heightens flavour or depresses other overpowering flavours.

Pure sugar produced by Ragus. Ragus is one of the world's leading pure sugarmanufacturers. It sources raw sugar from across the world to manufacture sugars, syrups and special formulations from its advanced UK factory. Ragus ships its sugars globally, delivering on-time and in-full to customers across the brewing, baking, confectionary, and pharmaceutical industries

Sugar is used as a way of colouring products; for example, crust browning in bread. Sugar also acts as an important tenderising agent in baked good, plus sugars help to extend the shelf life of food products.

Thus, before food and drink manufacturers can reach the goals set out by the government, research and new technology, needs to be put into place so that the taste, texture and appearance of food and drink remains appealing to consumers.