Ireland's biggest retailers have reformulated their private label carbonated soft drinks so as to avoid being subjected to a new sugar tax, which came into force on May 1.
The new tax will see €0.20 per litre being applied to drinks that contain between 5g and 8g of sugar per 100ml, and €0.30 per litre being applied to drinks that contain more than 8g of sugar per 100ml.
News portal The Journal reported that retailers including SuperValu, Centra, Aldi and Tesco have all engaged in product reformulation of their soft drinks ranges in order to ensure the sugar tax doesn't apply to their products.
A spokesperson for Musgrave Group, which operates the SuperValu and Centra banners, told The Journal that it has reformulated its products to "provide consumers with a healthier option at the same price”, while Tesco said that it has been "working with our branded soft drink suppliers to minimise the risk of higher prices for consumers and encourage consumers towards lower sugar drinks".
An Aldi spokesperson added that the retailer is "committed to supporting our customers in making healthy eating choices".
Earlier this week, the Irish Beverage Council, which represents soft drinks manufacturers in Ireland said that three quarters of all soft drinks now sold in Ireland are sugar-free.
“Soft drinks companies were early movers in sugar reduction, beginning in 1983 when the first sugar free carbonated drinks were introduced," said Irish Beverage Council director, Colm Jordan. "Since the 1990’s, the number of no-sugar drinks has increased substantially. Consumers want to manage their sugar intake and that is why the industry is investing in innovative new products to match evolving tastes."
Jordan pointed out that a recent government Health Impact Assessment found "no conclusive evidence a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks will impact population weight", adding that when a tax has been implemented in other countries, it has failed to address obesity.
"Notwithstanding this, we have co-operated fully with the design and implementation of the tax," he said.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.