However the Irish Beverage Council, which represents soft drinks companies, has announced that three-quarters of soft drinks sold in Ireland are already sugar tax-free due to industry’s 35-year journey to reduce sugar content in drinks.
“Soft drinks companies were early movers in sugar reduction, beginning in 1983 when the first sugar-free carbonated drinks were introduced,” stated Irish Beverage Council Director Colm Jordan, “Since the 1990s, the number of no-sugar drinks has increased substantially. Consumers want to manage their sugar intake and that’s why the industry is investing in innovative new products to match evolving tastes.
“We accept the Government’s sincerity in addressing the complex issue of obesity and are committed to working on shared solutions that deliver real public health benefits. 76% of soft drinks are now sugar tax free.
“In Ireland, 10 billion calories have been removed annually between 2005 and 2012 through voluntary sugar reduction in soft drinks. That’s a 10% reduction in seven years. Today, soft drinks represent less than 3% of Ireland’s calorific intake.”
But he added, “The Government’s Health Impact Assessment found no conclusive evidence a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks will impact population weight. Wherever a tax has been introduced it has failed to tackle obesity. Notwithstanding this, we’ve co-operated fully with the design and implementation of the tax.”