This April marks the first-year anniversary since the UK and Ireland Soft Drinks Industry Levy was introduced. Many thought the introduction of the levy would change consumer behavior and before its introduction, it was widely trailed by Government as a way to reduce sugar in soft drinks and tackle obesity, particularly among children. Given that obesity is a leading cause of death in the UK, this is a worthy ambition that we at Britvic support wholeheartedly.
It was a similar ambition that made removing sugar from our products a priority for us back in 2013. Since then we’ve removed 5,000 tonnes of the stuff from our soft drinks. We’ve also removed over 20billion calories from British diets during the same time period. By the time the soft drinks industry levy was introduced, 94% of our owned brands in Great Britain were below or exempt from the levy.
Long before the levy was implemented, consumers were increasingly demanding low and no-sugar. We’ve coined this trend ‘healthy hydration’, and it’s one of the fastest growing segments in the soft drinks industry. Consumers want natural energy drinks, less sugar and more exciting water-based products, leading to a raft of new product development. In the last 24 months alone, we’ve brought new brands and flavours to market including Robinsons Creations and Cordials, Refresh’d, Aqua Libra, Pepsi Max Raspberry and MiWadi, highlighting our commitment to low and no added sugar innovation.
It’s wanting to help people make healthier choices that’s behind some of the most exciting innovation we’ve been investing in at Britvic. It meant we reformulated our drinks to remove sugar, without compromising on taste or quality. It led to us introducing colour-coded nutrition labelling on the front of our packs, the first soft drinks company to do so. It resulted in us embarking upon a strategic partnership with Diabetes UK to raise awareness of the risk of diabetes, as well as raise funds and support those living with the condition. It is a focus of our innovation pipeline and there’s plenty more going on in Britvic labs, including turning our commitment to further reduce average calories in our products by another 20% by 2020 into reality.
We’ve been putting health at the heart of our business since 1938 – it’s in our DNA. We’ll continue to do so, helping to make life’s everyday moments more enjoyable at the same time.
Matt Barwell, Chief Marketing Officer, Britvic