Lucozade Ribena Suntory cuts sugar to avoid tax charge

All Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s soft drinks will fall below the sugar tax threshold

Lucozade Ribena Suntory has committed itself to reformulating all of its UK soft drink brands this year to ensure they will not be hit by the sugar tax that comes into force in April next year.

“We are changing our complete portfolio at Lucozade Ribena Suntory,” Dr Naomi Grant, the company’s director of research and development for GB and Ireland, told a sugar reduction policy seminar, organised by the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum.

“We are taking out 50% of sugar this year across the whole portfolio and that actually means that for each drink they’ll be 4.5g of sugar per 100ml or less,” said Grant.

‘Taking out 50% of sugar’

“So we are going to make sure for each brand that we have a zero calorie or no added sugar variant.

“That’s a massive change for us, but we also recognise that that is not enough, so we are actually committing £30M of investment across the next three years to get more people exercising and starting that with our own employees.”

She explained the difficulties the company had encountered in making such radical changes to its well-known 90-year heritage UK brands, which now make use of low-calorie sweeteners.

Radical changes

The former owner of these soft drinks brands, GlaxoSmithKline, sold them to Japanese company Suntory towards the end of 2013. “In 2014 we took the brands on a new journey,” said Grant.

Under the soft drinks sugar tax, there will be two bands one at 18p per litre (p/l) for total sugar content above 5g per 100ml and a second, higher band at 24p/l for the most sugary drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.

A major obstacle the firm faced, has been to explain to those with type 1 diabetes, who used Lucozade to control their body glucose levels – as well as to those using it for the pregnancy glucose tolerance test – what the reformulation changes meant for them.

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