Coca Cola’s General Manager in the UK and Ireland has hit out this morning at the UK government’s plans to introduce a sugar tax, a similar tax is being considered in Ireland.
In an interview in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, Jon Woods launched a two-pronged approach to the tax – citing the lack of evidence showing that taxing food and beverages changes people’s behaviour, and pointing to the actions Coca Cola has taken itself to reduce sugar across its range of soft drinks.
He says that since 2005, Coke has launched close to 30 new or reformulated drinks and that every brand now has a low or no-sugar alternative at an investment cost over the past five years of £30m.
In the same decade, the purchases of regular (sugary) soft drinks have fallen by about 45% with this loss covered by increased sales of sugarless drinks and water.
The British Treasury estimates that the levy will generate £520m (€686m).
Mr Woods has warned that the measure will "hit consumers in the pocket regardless of what they drink."
"The Office of Budget Responsibility has reported that it will cost more than £1bn in its first year due to an increase in interest payments on inflation-linked Government loans. That’s almost twice the amount the Treasury claims it will raise and a bill the taxpayer will presumably have to pay – and it does not factor in the increase in the cost of a weekly shop," he added.
The flagship regular Coca-Cola drink contains 10.6 grams of sugar per 100ml - a standard 330ml can serving has 39% of an individual's recommended sugar intake.
Data gathered by the NHS says that the sugar tax could save the country £15bn and almost 80,000 lives in a generation through reducing the public's sugar intake.
A sugar tax is only mentioned once in the Programme for Partnership published by the new Irish Government - under the section on creating new sources of income it says, "A new tax on sugar-sweetened drinks," will be introduced.