5 ways Big Food is cutting down sugar (are we finally getting somewhere?)

By Rachel O'Regan |

I Quit Sugar - 5 ways Big Food is cutting down sugar (are we finally getting somewhere?)

As the sugar debate continues to rage, Big Food and Big Soda have scrambled to address increasing calls for a reduction of sugar in their products.

This week, PepsiCo announced its billion dollar plan to cut the sugar content in its beverages. While it’s a step in the right direction for the soda giant, unfortunately many Pepsi-branded drinks will still contain an entire day’s worth of sugar in one serve. Plus, the changes won’t be fully implemented until 2025!

Pepsi and its rival Coke have also began to target sugar-free consumers in marketing campaigns, renaming their diet drinks Coke Zero Sugar and Pepsi Zero Sugar. Pepsi has even reintroduced controversial artificial sweetener aspartame, in an effort to make its diet drinks taste better.

But it’s not all small targets, long timeframes and sneaky marketing tactics. A few big companies are starting to introduce really exciting initiatives to help people eat less sugar. Here are a few of the highlights.

1. Reformulation and reduction.

The UK sugar tax means that the more sugar the beverage contains, the more it will cost. This has already pressured companies like sugary drinks manufacturers Britvic and Suntory to reduce sugar content by 20 per cent before 2020.

Impressively, UK Kellogg’s has also pledged to cut 723 tons of sugar from its cereals by 2017. And they’re not even affected by the sugar tax! Looks like the message is really getting out!

2. Treat transparency.

Of course, it’s not just soda and cereal that have high sugar content. Mars Foods recently introduced warning labels on Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s sauces to advise “occasional consumption” (once a week or less). With some of these sauces containing the same amount of sugar as a Mars Bar, we’re chuffed to see Mars labelling them as the treats they are.

3. Candy-free checkouts.

Shopping with kids can be tough when sugar is staring at them from every corner. UK supermarkets are helping prevent potential tantrums (and impulse purchases) by removing sweets from checkouts. This includes M&S, Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, The Cooperative, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and even Boots Pharmacy.

4. Labelling initiatives.

Wouldn’t it be easy if there were an independent labelling system that showed you at a glance which products are low in sugar? That’s the goal of certification initiative Sugarwise, which is backed by supermarket giant Tesco. If only Aussie supermarkets could strike a deal like this!

5. Sweetener swaps.

While we obviously don’t condone Pepsi’s use of aspartame (or any other artificial sweeteners), natural sweeteners like stevia and xylitol are popping up as sugar substitutes in more products.

Big Food companies are even working on gradually reformulating processed foods to see how the public reacts to versions with alternative sweeteners. Yeah, we prefer to Just Eat Real Food – but we can’t knock ‘em for trying!

We originally published this post in July 2016. We updated it in October 2016.

Do you know of any companies taking a stand against sugar? Send us an email at or let us know in the comments below!

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