UK sugar tax has ‘minimal impact’ on consumer behaviour: Nielsen

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

20% of consumers say they check sugar content more frequently now. Pic:Getty Images/jackf
20% of consumers say they check sugar content more frequently now. Pic:Getty Images/jackf

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The first four months of the UK’s sugar tax has failed to create any significant change in consumer behaviour; but it has encouraged widespread reformulation and the proliferation of lower sugar options, according to Nielsen.

According to the data analytics company, 62% of UK shoppers say they have not changed their consumption behaviour since the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL)​ came into effect in April. Meanwhile, one fifth of consumers surveyed say they now check the sugar content of their drinks more often.

Before the tax was introduced, 11% of shoppers said they planned to stop drinking sugary drinks: this is now 1%. The number of people who said they intended to keep buying sugary drinks has actually grown post tax: from 31% in February to 44% in June.

However, 69% of shoppers now believe that the tax should be extended to biscuits and confectionery. 

Aylin Ceylan, consumer and shopper partner, Nielsen, said that although the effects of the sugar tax on consumers don’t appear to be drastic, sugar intake is still a major concern and the SDIL has helped raise awareness.

“While we haven’t seen any significant changes in consumer habits, we have seen manufacturers adapt accordingly,” ​she said. “The average sugar content has been steadily decreasing in key categories such as carbonated drinks and breakfast cereals.

“Most soft drinks now actually fall below the sugar tax threshold, as manufacturers have been encouraged to reformulate most sugary drinks. As a result, drinks below the threshold are driving growth due to more households buying more, often at higher prices, and shoppers shifting to low-sugar alternatives. Shoppers are also continuing to purchase sugary soft drinks, but buy less and less often.”

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1 comment

Non sugar tax

Posted by Frank,

This is being used as a tax...what is the insentive diet drinks has the same price.... 8 cans coke with sugar £3.50. Then you have 8 cans of caffeine free diet coke no sugar same price..............

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