Sugar is in the news a lot at the moment. Not a day goes by when there isn’t a new story about it and our drinks are often mentioned in that news.
We’re all paying more attention to what we eat and drink and I know that there are some people who want to cut back on sugar. As a company, we’ve grown and been successful for 129 years because we’ve always listened to what people want and responded – whether that’s new flavours, the type of packaging our drinks are available in or lower sugar and calorie options.
We’re Britain’s biggest soft drinks company with 20 different brands and more than 80 different drinks. We sell sparkling soft drinks, juice and water too. Like all food and drinks, our soft drinks with sugar can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. That’s why we offer the wide range that we do, so that everyone can pick the drink that best meets their needs and lifestyle.
Every single one of our brands has a sugar free or low sugar version which taste great and are widely available. This isn’t new - we started in 1983 with Diet Coke – now one of Britain’s favourite brands. It takes time and money to get our recipes just right whilst lowering the calorie and sugar levels. However, since 2005 we have reformulated 27 drinks including Sprite, Dr Pepper and Lilt. In the last three years alone, we’ve invested £15 million in recipe development here in Great Britain.
While most people know that Coca-Cola has sugar in it, and that’s not something we hide, I was really surprised to learn that 5 out 10 consumers didn’t realise Coca-Cola Zero contained no sugar or calories – it was a similar story for Diet Coke. It signalled to me that we needed to do more to make everyone aware of the choice we offer. So we’ve been working to address this. We signed up to the government’s voluntary colour-coded labelling scheme to help people make an informed decision at a glance.
Already 43 per cent of the cola we sell is sugar free and I want to increase that – by 2020 we aim for 50 per cent of the cola we sell to be lower or no calorie. To do this we have more than doubled the marketing investment we’re putting behind Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero to get the message out.
For example, for the first time this year we’re leading our sponsorship of a big sporting event, Rugby World Cup 2015, with Coca-Cola Zero. We do also have strict global standards to make sure we market our drinks appropriately, here and across the world, and never to children. I take this very seriously here in the UK and it is something I’m always keeping under review.
We are making real progress to help you make an informed choice about the drinks you choose for yourself and your family. Sales of sugar free drinks are increasing and in the average shopping basket the amount of sugar taken home from soft drinks has fallen almost 9 per cent in three years.
There are debates about whether a tax is the answer. Soft drinks are already subject to VAT at 20 per cent. Rather than adding to the cost of a weekly shop and hitting people’s wallets, it’s practical actions, like the ones we are taking, that will continue to make a real difference.
I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far but I’m not complacent. We succeed as a business by making drinks which people love and they want to buy. This means always working hard to give you the choice and information that you want for you and your family.
If you’d like to find out more about our drinks and the steps that we’ve taken then please take a look around the site. If you’ve still got any questions, please do feek free to get in touch.
Jon Woods is General Manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland. Find out more about how we're helping people enjoy less sugar.
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