FDF Urged to Stop Opposing Sugar Tax, As Survey Finds UK Brands Less Hostile

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02 Dec 2016 --- A survey of Food and Drink Federation (FDF) members by the Children's Food Campaign highlights divergent industry views on the Government’s soft drinks industry levy. This is despite FDF maintaining its aggressive opposition to the levy.

FDF members Allied Bakeries, Birdseye, McCain, Nairns, Premier, Slimfast and Tilda all stated they have “no position” on the levy. Imminent publication of draft legislation on the sugary drinks tax offers the chance for the FDF and others to stop opposing a vital policy measure to curb children’s obesity and diabetes. 

A survey of Food and Drink Federation members by the Children’s Food Campaign has found that some of the UK’s most popular brands have “no position” on the soft drinks industry levy. This is despite the trade body itself being at the forefront of efforts to block the levy, an effective policy championed in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.

Among those who responded neutrally or confirmed they did have an official stance were three of the UK’s top twelve brands, and companies which employ thousands of people in the UK and produce products as varied as bread, cakes, frozen food, ready meals, rice, oatcakes and slimming products.

Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of Children’s Food Campaign – an alliance of health and medical organizations, who carried out the survey, said: “Companies that accept the need for a soft drinks industry levy, or have a neutral position, appear to be ‘carrying the can’ for companies that benefit from sales of sugary drinks. The Food and Drink Federation’s aggressive lobbying against the sugary drinks tax is a retrograde step which even some of its own members are shying away from. It’s time the FDF and other trade bodies fully engage with the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan, rather than spend hundreds of thousands of pounds and many hours of staff time trying to defeat a an effective measure to improve children’s health.”

“The publication next Monday of draft legislation on the soft drinks industry levy provides an ideal moment for the Food and Drink Federation and its members to press the ‘reset’ button. The soft drinks industry levy is already having a positive effect, over a year before it officially comes in. Instead of opposing the tax, FDF could be helping more companies to follow the lead of Tesco and Lucozade Ribena Suntory and commit to reduce the sugar in all of their soft drinks below the 5 grams per 100ml threshold that would trigger the tax. These leading companies have shown that change is possible, for the benefit of children’s health.”

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