Sweet nothings: Tesco cuts sugar to escape tax


Supermarket giant Tesco has announced it is cutting sugar in its own-brand drinks in a bid to escape the government’s new sugar tax.
The chain will be making sure sugar in its soft drinks is below the five-gram per 100ml threshold at which the tax will kick in.
The government has welcomed the move from Tesco, and is hoping that other supermarket behemoths will follow suit.
A new sugar tax was announced in a bid to cut growing levels of obesity, particularly child obesity, in Britain.
The firm says it will now be changing the recipe for 251 of its own-brand soft drinks. Although, Tesco has not yet said how much it has reduced sugar by.
Matt Davies, Tesco’s chief executive for the UK and the Republic of Ireland, said this latest sugar reduction was “just one part of our plans to make the food on our shelves healthier by reducing levels of sugar, salt and fat in our own brands.”
He said the firm had been working to make sure that while the soft drinks were healthier, they tasted just as good.
Mr Davies pointed out that Tesco customers were already consuming around a fifth less sugar in its own-brand soft drinks than they were five years ago, and he added: “We’re hoping this initiative will help make it a little easier for our customers to live more healthily.”
When pressed on whether low calorie sweeteners had been added, Tesco refused to comment on how the recipe was made up.
The Government said it was pleased the soft drinks industry was sitting up and taking notice of its new measures.
Public health minister Nicola Blackwood, said she was delighted Tesco was leading the way by reducing the amount of sugar in Tesco-branded soft drinks.
She added: “It is proof that taking added sugar out of drinks is both possible and in line with what customers want.
“The government’s sugar levy is designed to encourage manufacturers to cut the sugar from their products before the levy comes into force in 2018. Responsible actions like this are so important in our fight against childhood obesity.”
The new sugar tax was first announced under then Chancellor George Osborne in his March budget. Prime Minister Theresa May is set to stick to the measures, which will come into force in April 2018, affecting both producers and importers of soft drinks.