Soft drinks sugar solutions post sugar tax

Apr 3, 2018

The sugar tax has been hotly debated since it was first mentioned back in 2016 but now, two years on, it has come into action and divided not only the nation, but the entirety of the soft drink industry. While many people are throwing accusations of Nanny State, others are likening it to the taxation of the Tobacco industry.

Fizzy lemon and lime

This is great news for those who have either reduced their sugar or are living a sugar free lifestyle but for others, the price hike of between 18p and 24p per litre will come as a shock. It is hoped that the tax will not only raise awareness of the dangers of sugary drinks in diets, especially for children and young adults, but also encourage people to healthier and lower sugar choices.

Some drinks are currently exempt from the sugar tax. Fruit juices have no added sugar but the high level of fructose is naturally occurring which leaves it outside the tax’s current remit. The same applies to milkshakes due to the high quantity of lactose found in such drinks, however they may not be safe for long.

The two years leading up to the sugar tax has not been wasted. While some companies have stuck to their guns and belligerently refused to change the original recipe on their core products, others have been testing sugar alternatives and tinkering with formulas.

Up for adaptation

bottles of brightly coloured drink

Drinks with more than 8g (two teaspoons) of sugar per 100ml would be facing a 24 pence increase per litre, whereas drinks with 5g per 100ml would see an 18p increase. For those companies looking to avoid the cost, they have set to experimenting with other sweeteners. This has been met with some negativity.

Irn Bru has invested in a new formula that has seen some strongly worded feedback on social media, as well as people stockpiling the old Irn Bru.

Ribena have also changed their recipe in an effort to reduce the sugar in the popular children’s drink however people are taking to Twitter to announce their dissatisfaction with the product.

Others that have returned to their drawing boards include Lucozade and Supermarket own brands such Tesco, Asda and Co-op. Some brands remain untouched by the tax as they have 5g of sugar or less per 100ml such as Fanta, Sprite and Dr. Pepper.

Stubbornly staying put

tins of fizzy drink

The giants of the soft drink industry are standing firm and remaining loyal to their original recipe. When initially proposed, it was thought that the sugar tax would raise £520 million which would then be put towards Breakfast clubs and Sports Colleges, however, with more companies than expected to change their recipes, this estimate has been halved.

Now it is thought that those who are refusing to change their recipes, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, will be strong contributors towards the sugar tax. In an effort not to pass on all of the cost to the customers, Coca-Cola has reduced the size of their bottles from 1.75l to 1.5l and increased the price by 20p.

Alternatives on the market

Home made lemonade

While some companies have been scrambling to adapt their recipes and others have been scaling down bottles, the yearlong run into the sugar tax has also bred some innovation within the soft drink industry. Recognising a gap in the market between the overly sweet fizzy drinks and plain water, smaller companies have been busily brewing their alternative adult soft drinks.

Seedlip is storming through the high street and supermarkets alike with its distilled and craft spirit approach to a grown-up non-alcoholic beverage. With its herbal flavour profile and use in both standard cocktails and their sober equivalent, Seedlip has become the number one alternative to alcohol when eating out. Being both sugar and sweetener free, it is untouched by the sugar tax and is perfect for those trying to restrict sugar from their diet.

Ugly is a more portable drink that meets the need in the lunchtime rush and is available from both supermarkets and health shops alike. With no sugar, sweeteners or anything artificial, this naturally flavoured sparkling water comes in four fruity flavours that our firm favourites with the British public.

Nix and Kix have a concept with a kick and all of their adult flavours come with a little heat. The health benefits of Cayenne are blended into refreshing combinations such and cucumber and mint or peach and vanilla, but they also require a little more attention so glasses can be garnished according to the flavour.

Far reaching effects

supermarket shelves of soft drink

It is not just the drinks industry that is being affected by the tax, but everyone who sells soft drinks. This means that some supermarkets have had to alter their offers to take into account the price hike. While Sainsbury’s still offer many soft drinks in their meal deal, a bottle of full fat Coca Cola is no longer included and customers have to pay for it separately.

There have also been rumours that the tax on soft drinks is just the beginning. There is an expectation that this will soon extend to milkshakes that have lots of added sugar and even food products like biscuits and cakes.

The sugar tax is already being heralded as a success despite some negative response. Many companies choosing to change their products have fulfilled the ambition of the tax, however will resentment from the public stop it from going any further?


Could alcohol-free bars be the answer to the UK’s rise in sobriety?

With alcohol-licensed venues closing due to plummeting drinking rates, could alcohol-free bars and nightclubs be the answer to the UK’s rising teetotalism?

Read More

The best natural alternatives to sugar

If you are looking for a natural alternative to the white stuff but don’t know where to start, I’m here to discuss some of the best options.

Read More

How the call for less sugar is affecting weddings

As the call for a cut on sugar reaches wedding celebrations, I uncover the alternatives that are growing in popularity.

Read More

How brands approached Dry January in 2019

In this article I look at how brands have approached Dry January 2019, from soft drink brands to supermarkets and everything in between.

Read More

Why do social situations usually have to mean drinking?

Not all social situations have to involve alcohol. In this article I discuss the benefits a booze-free night can have on your lifestyle.

Read More

Looking at the history of Dry January

In this article, I look into how Dry January came to be, why you should take part in it in 2019 and the celebs who are already singing its praises.

Read More

Hangover-free drinks: A myth or reality?

Could hangover-free alcoholic drinks soon be a reality? Or are we better off sticking to non-alcoholic options to avoid a headache in the morning?

Read More

Authenticity and the changing face of luxury

As brands strive to meet the increasing demands of consumers, an emphasis on authenticity and personal experiences is changing the meaning of luxury.

Read More

Looking at the sugar in Christmas drinks 2018

This year I wanted to take another look at the shocking truth about sugar-laden Christmas drinks and explore whether coffee shops have tried to make a change.

Read More

The future of sobriety: Alcohol-free clubs, societies and festivals

Are alcohol-free festivals like Mindful Drinking Festival, events that bring together likeminded people to celebrate not drinking, the future of sobriety?

Read More

Is Pepsi buying SodaStream a clear sign that people want more customisation?

Does PepsiCo’s recent purchase of SodaStream show that even the biggest brands in the soft drinks market are hearing the call for customisation?

Read More

The rising popularity of non-alcoholic beers

As people shift away from drinking, beer companies have been quick to start developing their own non-alcoholic brews in order to keep up with new demands.

Read More

A look at Sober October

With ‘dry’ months in the aid of charity becoming more popular, we take a look into Sober October, its history and how someone can take part.

Read More

Kamila Sitwell - Kolibri co-founder is featured by Mintel

Mintel reports how Kamila Sitwell used market intelligence and her passion for the hospitality industry to create Kolibri Drinks.

Read More

Generation sober: why are millennials cutting back on alcohol?

With drinking rates among British adults at their lowest in 18 years, why aren’t millennials drinking alcohol like the generations before them?

Read More

Mintel features Kolibri in its trend setters report

Kolibri Drinks is featured in the Mintel Trend setters report and describes how Kolibri has removed all the sugar from its botanical drinks using a new bottle format that allows consumers to control how sweet their drink is.

Read More

Should we be scared of artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are making the headlines again, and not for the right reasons. There are millions of consumers worldwide who happily drink diet fizzy drinks which seem virtuous because they replace sugar but in reality maybe the artificial additives are not as helpful as we imagine.

Read More

Soft drinks sugar solutions post sugar tax

The sugar tax has been hotly debated since it was first mentioned back in 2016 but now, two years on, it has come into action and divided not only the nation, but the entirety of the soft drink industry. While many people are throwing accusations of Nanny State, others are likening it to the taxation of the Tobacco industry.

Read More

Cheers to choice and abstaining in style!

Kamila Sitwell launches Kolibri Drinks, the world's first bespoke bottled drink!

Read More