Innocent Drinks has renewed calls for VAT on fruit juices to be slashed - in the hope Gordon Brown will be more sympathetic to the cause now he is prime minister.

Innocent has been lobbying since last August for a change in the law that classifies fruit juices and smoothies as beverages, which attract VAT while most other food does not.

Yesterday, the company staged a press call with Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, who is said to be close to Brown.

Watson reiterated Innocent's calls for the rate to be reduced from 17.5% to 5%, arguing that the move would encourage people to adopt healthier diets.

He also pledged to push for a meeting with health ministers and the Treasury.

Innocent said it would also target Ed Balls, the newly-appointed secretary of state for children, schools and families.

Equally crucial was support from the retailers, it said. They are being asked to reduce the price of juices and smoothies in-store in line with any tax cut.

Innocent said this would strengthen its case by demonstrating that consumers stood to gain most from any change.

The campaign has already won the backing of the British Soft Drinks Association.

Meanwhile, public support is also gathering pace. Since it was launched on 3 April, nearly 12,000 people have signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street website demanding VAT on juices be reduced.

Innocent hopes to encourage more people to add their names by promoting it on bottles of smoothies.

Labels will read: "Some things just aren't right. Tartan jeans for instance. And the fact that the government charges VAT on healthy fruit juices and smoothies. Wrong wrong wrong. Especially when other foods, like frozen pizzas and pies, remain tax-free. Not exactly encouraging healthy eating is it?

"That's why we've set up a petition to tell the ­government that they could help more people to get their 5-a-day by removing this daft tax."

Innocent has decided not to lobby for the rate to be reduced to zero because this would require EU approval.