Soft drink sector representative UNESDA has pledged a further 10% in reduction of added sugars between 2015 and 2020.
Sugar reduction in Europe as a whole reached 12% between 2000 and 2015, encouraged by consumer demand for lower sugar content in soft drinks.
The sugar reduction goal takes into account existing and upcoming local industry pledges, reflecting national diet and consumer preferences and impacting over five million consumers.
UNESDA said the sector will achieve its target by using low and no calorie sweeteners, and increasing offers of smaller pack sizes to allow portion control.
The group said that availability of pack sizes less than 330 mL (standard can size) has increased 150% since 2006, with over 30 different smaller single serve packs to choose from on offer.
Two-thirds of new product launches are for zero or reduced sugar products, while those products represent over 30% of sales in many EU markets, it added.
The industry's move to reduce sugar was in response to the EU's call for reformulation of products and lower sugar levels in the food industry.
Stanislas de Gramont, president of UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe and CEO of Suntory Beverage and Food Europe said, “We welcome the EU’s policy approach to reformulation and sugar reduction which is based on partnership and allows us to deliver speed and scale.
"This 10% sugar reduction commitment represents a tripling of the pace of our efforts to date. We will need to employ a wide array of tools in order to achieve our ambitious target and we hope other food categories will follow suit in order to generate critical mass."
Governments are also acting to reduce sugar in soft drinks. For example, a tax on sugary drinks in Portugal came into effect on 1 February, and aims to raise €80 million this year for the national health system.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. Click subscribe to sign up for ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine