EUROPE – The European soft drinks sector has surpassed the EU target for reduction in added sugar, restoring confidence that efforts to cut the amount of sugar in beverages are delivering results.

According to UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, the sector achieved a 14.6% sugar reduction from 2015 to 2019, becoming the first and only sector to surpass the 10% target that was to be achieved by 2020.

Additional measures saw the sector deliver a 3.6% reduction in average added sugars between 2019 and 2021, says UNSDA, marking a 17.7% reduction since 2015 (covering all soft drinks except water and juices).

Ian Ellington, President of UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe revealed that significant investments in reformulation and new product development have helped the achieve a total of 26% reduction in average added sugars since 2000.

UNESDA further pointed out that over the last decade, more than 60% of new beverage launches in the market are of no or low sugar and calories.

“Our efforts to meet our latest sugar reduction target are delivering results,” Ellington, who is also the Senior Vice-President and Chief marketing officer for PepsiCo in Europe, said.

“It also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to encourage consumers towards healthier drink options by offering them more no- and low-calorie products.”

Confident of its progress so far, the Sector is now eyeing to reduce the average added sugar in beverages by 10% in the EU27 and UK between 2019 and 2025.

The reduction is on top of reductions made in previous commitments for 2015 and 2019.

UNESDA said that the sector is making the commitment under the umbrella of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and its Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practice

Baby food pouches are “more sugary than can of Coca-Cola”: BDA

Elsewhere, a survey report from British Dental Association (BDA), has found more than a quarter of baby food pouches contain more sugar by volume than a can of Coca-Cola.

Fruit-based pouches marketed for infants as young as four months old contained sugar levels the equivalent of up to 150% of the soft drink, according to the findings.

Meanwhile, almost 40% of products surveyed were marketed at babies “four months plus”, despite both UK and World Health Organization guidance recommending weaning from six months old.

Additionally, the survey found that the pouches had “meaningless” marketing claims such as “naturally occurring sugars” and “no added sugar” that could mislead parents into thinking it is the right choice for infants.

The survey revealed that the manufacturers said high levels of natural or locked-in sugar were inevitable with fruit-based pouches, but some brands managed to offer similar products containing around half the sugar of the worst offenders.

The BDA study is an echo of an analysis by Action on Sugar last year of 73 baby and toddler sweet snacks such as rusks, biscuits, oat bars, and puffs that found that only six products (8%) would be given a green (low) label for sugars.

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