Is it the end for sugar-packed food & drink?

Food Wars

Just over 10 years ago we saw Turkey Twizzlers become the most discussed fast food item in the UK, which proved to be the start of many campaigns from Jamie Oliver and other celebrity chefs. The latest is the war on sugar, clearly unhealthy in large quantities, but what effect would the so-called sugar tax have on hospitality?

Whilst it is common knowledge that confectionary items such as sweets and chocolate are bad for our health and should be eaten or drunk in moderation, the actual amount of sugar present in what are often marketed as everyday items can be shocking. The Action on Sugar campaign group recently claimed this week that they found ‘unbelievable’ results at almost all of the 131 everyday tested drinks having extremely high sugar content, with the highest boasting 25 teaspoons per serving.

Unlike food items, which list clear nutritional values on their packaging, it is always difficult to determine the amount of sugar hiding in drinks from coffee shops unless there has been a conscious effort by the consumer to do the research beforehand.

Following on from his success of banning Turkey Twizzlers in both primary and secondary schools, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that Jamie Oliver has most recently been campaigning for the government to introduce a tax on sugary items in order to help decrease obesity and cut sugar consumption.

Although David Cameron supposedly rejected the idea it may not necessarily be axed, as it was recently reported that the NHS are hoping to introduce a 20% sugar tax in their hospital cafés across the country. There certainly are clear reservations about how sugar tax will impact consumer behaviour and does not help answer whether these drinks should be sold in the first place.

What will this mean for the drinks industry and how will this impact on the hospitality sector?

It is evident that more high street retailers will need to start offering or even in some cases enforcing low or sugar free options for consumers by reducing or omitting syrups for example. Implementation of clearer nutritional labelling and lowing personalisation options by retailers will also help decrease our high intake of sugar, but are we then turning into too much of a nanny state? Should consumers be able to be as unhealthy as they like, even if it’s the NHS who picks up the pieces?

It is likely that we will see a decline in sales of fizzy drinks and high street coffees as we become more sugar conscious and particularly as prices rise.  Perhaps the intense health trend of late will be a permanent fixture in F&B and not prove not to be a trend after all.

For more information on the Action On Sugar campaign click here.

For more information about EP’s work in F&B please contact
Amy Lainchbury

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