24 March 2014

Media Statement

Innovation and changing consumer needs brings together Australia’s non-alcoholic beverage industry at annual conference on the Gold Coast

Australia’s non-alcoholic beverage industry has today come together on Queensland’s Gold Coast to champion new innovations and discuss issues impacting the industry and beyond.

Australian Beverages Council CEO, Geoff Parker speaking at the biennial beverage industry conference, ‘ausdrinks’, today said the Australian beverages industry is already one of the most innovative in the world, with more than one third of products diet or low calorie.

“As an industry, we are continually working together to innovate, reformulate and look to the future for solutions to issues affecting both manufacturers and consumers,” Mr Parker said.

“When you look down the supermarket aisle you notice, more so than any other category, beverages are extremely unique in providing both regular and low-kilojoule options. And what you’ll see when you read the news is that soft drinks have become a soft target for health campaigners. We know singling out just one product is not going to solve the problem of obesity.”

The Australian Beverages Council is opposed to measures such as a soft drink tax as a means to combating obesity.  A new academic study evaluating the impact on consumption and weight outcomes, highlighted a tax on soft drinks can lead to increased caloric (kilojoule) intake.

Non-linear effects of soda taxes on consumption and weight outcomes[i], published in the US publication Health Economics casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of imposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to curb obesity. The study concluded that often people shift consumption to other food and beverages, and actually increase their daily caloric consumption.

Results for total caloric intake show that a one percentage point increase in the soft drink tax rate actually increased total caloric intake by 27.7 calories per adult per day.

“Time and time again, analysis of a sugar tax has shown the proposal to be bad policy”, Mr Parker said.

“The Henry Tax Review rejected the idea and the failure of similar taxes overseas has shown such a tax does little to change consumer behaviour, and now this. The conclusion of this US study specifically calls into question the assumptions that supporters of large soft drink taxes make on its likely impacts on population weight.”

“Taxes don’t teach healthy lifestyles; if we want a healthier country, we need better education about exercise and balanced diets,” Mr Parker said.

The non-alcoholic beverages industry continues to recognise it has a role to play along with other stakeholders, in addressing the complex and multi-factorial issues of overweight and obesity.

For close to a decade the industry has:

  • not marketed regular kilojoule products to children under 12
  • reformulated products to offer low and no-sugar varieties
  • voluntarily displayed kilojoule information on the front of labels; and
  • has restricted sales of regular kilojoule soft drinks in schools.

The ausdrinks Conference and Exhibition is the premier event for the non-alcoholic refreshment beverage industry and brings together key personnel involved in soft drink, water, and juice based manufacturing.

Media contact:

Geoff Parker – Chief Executive Officer, Australian Beverages Council

+61 (0)407 646 195

MR container deposit ausdrinks2012

Notes to editor

  1. 1.       ausdrinks runs from 24-25 March, 2014
  2. 2.       The Australian Beverages Council is the peak body for the non-alcoholic beverages industry and represents 95% of the industry’s production volume through membership.
  3. 3.       Fletcher, J. M., Frisvold, D. E. and Tefft, N. (2014), NON-LINEAR EFFECTS OF SODA TAXES ON CONSUMPTION AND WEIGHT OUTCOMES. Health Econ.. doi: 10.1002/hec.3045. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  4. [i] Fletcher, J. M., Frisvold, D. E. and Tefft, N. (2014), NON-LINEAR EFFECTS OF SODA TAXES ON CONSUMPTION AND WEIGHT OUTCOMES. Health Econ.. doi: 10.1002/hec.3045. 


 [1] Fletcher, J. M., Frisvold, D. E. and Tefft, N. (2014), NON-LINEAR EFFECTS OF SODA TAXES ON CONSUMPTION AND WEIGHT OUTCOMES. Health Econ.. doi: 10.1002/hec.3045. 
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