SOUTH AFRICA – Coca-Cola South Africa has reduced sugar content as part of its interventions to curtail the effect of the recently introduced tax on sugary drinks and present healthier products in the market.

According to Camilla Osborne, Head of Communications for Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa, the soft beverage giant has managed to reduce its sugar content by up to 26%, reports IOL Business.

In April 2018, the government imposed a Health Promotion Levy of 2.1 cents per gram of sugar on all sweetened drinks but made the first 4g of sugar per 100ml exempt from taxation as an incentive for manufacturers to cut the sugar content.

“In South Africa, over a two-year period, we had reduced average sugar content across our portfolio by 26%, ahead of industry commitments of 15%.

“We recognise that too much sugar isn’t good for anyone and support the current recommendation by several leading health authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), that people should limit their intake of added sugar to no more than 10% of their total energy/calorie consumption.

“We have launched a range of no-sugar and low-kilojoules options and have shifted marketing investments, including in-store, to lead with our no or low-sugar options.

To aid portion control, we offer different pack sizes too. We are also offering preferable pricing for no-sugar products in South Africa,” Osborne said

She noted that this also reinforces the firm’s commitment in helping consumers make informed dietary choices as part of a balanced lifestyle highlighting the notable shift into no and low-calorie options across its portfolio.

South Africa joins a range of countries including Mexico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well some US states who have introduced a tax on sugary drinks.

Despite claims of possible impact of the sugar tax levy, Coca-Cola recently reported a 5% growth in global income for the first quarter of 2019, bringing its net revenue to US$8billion.

The company experienced the biggest growth in Latin America although Mexico was one of the first countries in the world to tax the sugar content of sugary drinks.

The UAE introduced a strict sugar tax in October 2017 – a 100% tax on energy drinks and 50% tax on soft drinks – and has since reported high compliance with its excise taxes.