Why Big Soda’s reaction to the sugar tax proves it’s already working

By Rachel O'Regan |

I Quit Sugar – Why Big Soda’s reaction to the sugar tax proves it’s already working

The same challenges are posed to us again and again (and again) in the sugar tax debate.

The two biggest ones? The idea that the sugar tax won’t reduce consumption and Big Soda won’t change its products. Yep, life will go on just as before (you’ll just have to fork out an extra 20 cents for a Coke).

Not so fast! While we don’t have a crystal ball, this thinking is already proving not to be true!

Not only has a sugar tax already reduced consumption in countries such as Mexico, but Big Soda is also scrambling to respond to the growing conversation about a sugar tax in the UK and  Australia. And it wouldn’t be doing that if it wasn’t scared that the tax was going to work.

Big Soda is in full PR damage control mode.

Big Soda has been rolling out everything from small cans to drinks sweetened with stevia. As part of a labelling overhaul, Coca-Cola is even set to rebrand Coke Zero as Coke Zero Sugar, in case you didn’t quite understand that’s filled with artificial sweeteners instead.

PR machines are in also in full force. Says Coke in its latest defence, “Our industry has a role to play in promoting the energy balance message and helping consumers make the right choices. This is why we are constantly challenging ourselves to ensure we offer choice.”

Not new news. Coke has been trying to push the responsibility onto the consumer for a while, rather than admit that its highly addictive product (which costs less than a bottle of milk) is the problem. With Aussie kids getting the majority of their added sugar from soft drinks, yep, it’s the problem!

Big Soda’s even reformulating products.

If you believe that companies will never reduce sugar, then look here. British brand Suntory (the maker of hugely popular brands Ribena and Lucozade) has already pledged to reduce sugar by 10 per cent before 2018, and 20 per cent by 2025 or sooner.

The two-tiered UK sugar tax means that the higher the sugar content, the more the customer shells out. We’re willing to bet that Coke and Pepsi’s labs are working overtime trying to reformulate their “classic” taste, too.

What does all this prove? Change is on the way.

If a sugar tax wouldn’t change anything, Big Soda wouldn’t even bother to address it! Instead, it’s spinning its wheels thinking of new excuses and marketing tactics to pre-empt the tax.

And rightly so. The massive conversation already driven by the idea of a tax means that more and more people are going to think twice before downing that can with 10 teaspoons of sugar. Imagine what could actually happen with a tax!

Come on, let’s really give Big Soda something to worry about.

Do you agree? Sign the I Quit Sugar petition at Change.Org/sugartaxAU.

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