Date Published: 22-03-2016

In last week’s budget, George Osborne announced that in 2018 a tax will be introduced to manufacturers of sugary soft drinks, much to the producers’ dismay. This tax will be in two bands, with the overall aim to combat childhood obesity – the first band is for a total sugar content above 5g per 100ml and the second which will tackle the most sugary drinks above 8g per 100ml.

Soft drinks manufacturers are outraged by this levy that has also worked in countries such as Finland, France and Mexico, claiming that it will harm their business – an arguably fair concern – but the government claims that two years is plenty of time to make drinks less sweet.

Brands such as Coca Cola, Britvic and AG Barr feel that they are being punished when makers of fruit or milk based sugary drinks, as well as sweets and chocolate are not subject to these levies – they want to know why, when if anything they’ve been spending millions of pounds every year to find innovative ways to preserve flavours whilst also lessening sugar content.

In addition to this, the British Soft Drink Association has found that overall consumption is down slightly whilst around 50% of those sold are in the low to no calorie category.

At present, soft drink manufacturers in the UK employ 20,000 people directly, with another 115,000 through the wider supply chain and as of now it remains to be seen what will happen to those numbers once the levy is introduced.

Realistically there are a few ways soft drink manufacturers could be affected by and respond to this:

They could sue the government through European courts based on the fact that other types of sugary food and drink are being left alone. This has proved successful in several Scandinavian countries.

Producers could be forced to downsize recruitment numbers in order to keep prices the same when the levy is introduced.

Or, recruiting in the sector could rise dramatically as manufacturers invest even more money into the research and development of lowering sugar content without altering the flavour of their most popular beverages.

It really is too early to tell what will really happen within the industry but as you can see, there are several possible outcomes. We will endeavour to keep you updated when we know more!

If you’re looking for a job in Food and Drink Manufacturing, you’re in luck as we have roles available in this sector, throughout East Anglia: