A war on sugar is due to begin this week and your favourite fizzy pop could be in the line of fire.
A new tax on sugary soft drinks comes into effect this Friday and it means price rises for some iconic brands.
There will be two tax bands with the sweetest drinks containing more than 8g of sugar per 100ml taxed at 24p per litre.
Drinks with a total sugar content above 5g per 100ml will be taxed at 18p per litre.
Why are soft drinks being targeted?
Health officials have long blamed sugar for the nation’s obesity crisis.
Take diabetes for example. The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has doubled in the past 20 years according to Diabetes UK , with type two cases - which are linked to diet - a particular concern.
The organisation suggests that 12.3million people are currently at risk of developing type two diabetes.
A report by researchers at the University of Cambridge in 2015 found that as many as 8,000 new cases of type two diabetes a year are directly linked to fizzy drink consumption.
Dentists have also lobbied for a tax after the number of young children suffering serious tooth decay rocketed.
How will it affect me?
Prices will rise for some drinks but the industry has found ingenious ways to get the levels down – from ‘restructured sugar’ to artificial sweeteners.
A can of Classic Coca Cola is set to go up by 8p on the typical 70p cost while a 1.75l bottle may rise by 42p.
It’s a similar story for Pepsi too, and Old Jamaican Ginger Beer.
Red Bull features a hefty 11g of sugar per 100ml, so it is also subject to the higher rate - a typical 250ml can will cost an extra 6p as a result.
There are plenty of popular fizzy drinks that have lower sugar content and so won’t be subject to the tax too, including Lilt, Schweppes Lemonade, and Tango.
Other drinks makers have adjusted their recipes to ensure you won’t be hit by the tax. Irn Bru for example has ditched its original recipe for one with less than 5g per 100ml.
Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, which comprise three of the UK’s “Big Four” supermarkets, have all reformulated their own-brand soft drinks, reducing the sugar content of these products so they fall beneath the threshold for the levy. Sainsbury’s has apparently not yet tried the same tactic.
It’s also worth noting that pure fruit juices are exempt from the tax, so you can still get smoothies and orange juice despite its high sugar levels.
Will they taste the same?
Only time will tell if consumers stay loyal to brands after recipe changes.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi opted to take the price rise on the chin after bosses decided not to change their recipes for fear of upsetting customers.
Manufacturers are expected to reduce the sizes of bottles and cans to limit the price hikes to the public.
What will be done with the tax cash?
The government has guaranteed that every penny of the money raised will go towards improving children’s health, including by ‘doubling the primary sports premium to improve the quality of PE in schools.
When it was announced in 2016 it was hoped it would rake in £500m a year but the latest predictions anticipate only £275m per year will be brought in.
Despite this Treasury mandarins might not be as disappointed as expected as the aim of the policy is to reduce consumption of sugar and increase the nation’s health, in particular children.
Is everyone happy with it?
In a word - no.
The Oral Health Foundation said the new Soft Drink Industry Levy does not go far enough.
It said it was angry that no funds from the tax had been pledged towards improving education on oral health or on action to help reduce the impact of sugar on teeth.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of charity the Oral Health Foundation, said: “The sugar tax falls short when it comes to oral health and it does not do enough to address the crisis we have seen develop as a result of excessive sugar consumption in the UK over recent years.
“Tooth decay is the number one reason why children have a general anaesthetic in hospital in England. The Local Government Association (LGA) have recorded that there were nearly 43,000 hospital operations to remove unhealthy teeth in children in the last year alone. It is an utterly heart-breaking situation and something no child should go through.
“This is part of a wider children’s dental health problem in England. More than one in ten (12%) three-year olds suffer from tooth decay and this increases to one in four (25%) as they reach five years’ old.
“The government have somewhat ignored this when they developed the sugar tax and have failed millions of children by not recognising and reacting effectively enough to the risk posed to their oral health by sugary drinks.”
Dewsbury, Mirfield, Kirkburton and Denby Dale MP, Paula Sherriff, who has been campaigning for better NHS dental care in Kirklees said: “I do believe a Sugar Tax – a levy on the soft drinks corporations – will go some way to begin tackling obesity and poor dental health, especially in childhood.
“However, once again we see Tory cuts getting in the way of real progress with £85m cuts to public health budgets across the country over the last few years.
“Without a wider strategy for public health investment, the government’s Sugar Tax is at risk of failure.”