Non-Alcoholic Drinks Industry Leading the Way in Reducing Sugar Consumption

Peak industry body representing the $7 billion non-alcoholic beverages industry.

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Non-Alcoholic Drinks Industry Leading the Way in Reducing Sugar Consumption

WEDNESDAY, 19 JANUARY 2022, SYDNEY: Australian producers of non-alcoholic drinks are leading the rest of the shopping trolley in giving consumers better choices to reduce consumption of sugar, and suggestions to introduce a sugar tax by the AMA to address obesity is a last century fix to a modern-day problem.

“Obesity is complex and multi-factorial but the AMA’s latest call for a tax on drinks in the shopping trolley of everyday Australians will hurt household budgets but more importantly misses the mark and will make no impact on the rates of overweight and obesity,” said Australian Beverages Council’s CEO, Geoff Parker.

“The doctors’ union knows this type of discriminatory and regressive tax lacks any evidence from anywhere in the world in providing public health benefits and has been repeatedly considered and rejected by numerous forums and high-level meetings of the United Nations,” said Parker.

Countries that have introduced similar taxes have failed to see a meaningful impact on obesity and diabetes rates and many have repealed them – including Denmark, Norway and other Nordic countries. Residents in the UK are not getting thinner since it introduced a sugar tax and prevalence rates of obesity in Mexico have increased since it introduced its tax.

Parker noted that “the Federal Government clearly agrees that taxes aren’t the fix needed to address obesity and it knows that Australians are making better drink choices and have been doing so for over 20 years. The AMA have regrettably ignored recent peer-reviewed research in the journal Nutrients which shows a long-term, fundamental shift in Australians’ non-alcoholic drink choices with a move away from regular sugar drinks, with each Australian over that 20-year period drinking an astonishing 30 per cent less sugar, the equivalent of 32 teaspoons or 127 grams of less sugar per person, per year. In fact, since 2015 sales of low/no sugar drinks have exceeded those of regular sugar drinks. Today sales of bottled and packaged water are more than sugar-sweetened carbonated soft drinks.”

“These trends are further supported by the results of the two most recent Australian National Nutrition Surveys in 1995 and 2011-12 which have shown significant decreases in sugar-sweetened drink consumption in both children and adults, and subsequent increases in low and no sugar varieties, especially water.”

In addition to these positive public health trends in consumption, the industry has brought speed and scale to its portfolio renovation with its flagship sugar reduction pledge – a commitment by the nation’s largest drink companies to reduce sugar across their portfolios by 20 per cent by 2025 – a goal the industry is already well on the way to exceeding with the latest progress report (see below) to end of 2020 showing a 12 per cent reduction in sugar. The non-alcoholic drink industry’s sugar reduction pledge is the first time a sector has united to reduce sugar and shows the drinks industry has stepped up to play its part in offering consumers more choice. The industry encourages other sectors of the food supply to launch their own pledges and play their part in addressing a complex, multi-factorial problem like obesity.

“The AMA have regrettably ignored these evidence-based trends and positive steps by the drinks industry and have neglected to mention that these seismic shifts in sales and consumer purchasing patterns over two decades have happened at the same time that rates of overweight and obesity have continued to rise in both adults and children” Parker said. “The drinks industry encourages the AMA to revisit the latest peer-reviewed data and look for contemporary, real world, evidence-based solutions to address the nation’s expanding waistline rather than slapping a tax on households that can least afford it, and which lacks any real-world evidence that it works.”

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Cathy Cook, Head of Corporate Affairs, 0406 399 211

Sugar Reduction Pledge Report

Full Sugar Reduction Press Release