soft drinks sugar

Tesco has smashed its target of removing 5% of sugar from its soft drinks aisle, with figures revealing it has cut nearly three times the amount in tha last year.

David Beardmore, category buying manager for soft drinks and juice, told the Zenith Soft Drinks Conference in London yesterday that Tesco had removed 1,428 tonnes of sugar in the 12 months to 1 March, a reduction of 13%.

The figure, the equivalent of 4.6 billion calories, amounts to more than all Tesco’s reformulation efforts in the previous three years combined and Beardmore insisted that it had still managed to grow its share, which stands at 33.9% of the market.

Tesco is pressing ahead with sugar reduction in the category, despite admitting last year that its crackdown on sugar in the children’s drinks aisle, including the controversial removal of added-sugar juice drinks. which affected brands such as Ribena and Capri Sun, had hit overall sales.

The latest figures were welcomed by chairman of campaign group Action on Sugar Professor Graham MacGregor, who urged major suppliers including Coca-Cola to follow Tesco’s lead.

“It’s good news that Tesco has beaten its target and now we want them to make good on their promise to tackle artificial sweeteners,” said MacGregor.

“These big reductions send a message to the likes of Coca-Cola and what we really need is for them to commit to reduce the amount of sugar in their red Coke products. That really would be the big breakthrough. Unfortunately, despite Tesco’s stance some people and organisations in the soft drinks industry still behave like dinosaurs. It’s all very well trying to bury their heads in the sand but they have to realise with the sugar levy coming they are going to be hit.”

Steve Norris, founder of More Drinks, also welcomed Tesco’s achievement.

“Not only has Tesco set out a target to reduce sugar but it’s well outstripped it, which is a great achievement,” he said. “They have also managed to grow share despite this, because sales of water and flavoured & functional water, the healthier propositions, have outstripped the falls in the more sugar-laden cola and flavoured carbonates.Tesco has shown they are able to be an influencer of consumer choice and use their scale for good as they have pledged to do.”