Drinks firms to cut sugar content
Soft drinks brands Lucozade and Ribena have pledged to reduce the sugar in some products as part of the Government's efforts to cut obesity rates.
The sugar in the Ribena ready-to-drink line and Lucozade Energy will be cut by "up to 10%", while AG Barr will reduce the calorie content across its drinks range, which includes IrnBru, by 5%.
Public health minister Anna Soubry welcomed the pledges as part of efforts to "reverse the rising tide of obesity".
England has some of the highest obesity rates in the developed world, with 60% of adults and one third of 10 and 11-year-olds being overweight or obese. The Government launched its Responsibility Deal calorie reduction pledge to encourage businesses and other organisations to help consumers consume less sugar.
The J20 brand has also announced it is to launch two flavours in a new slimline can which will represent a 10% calorie reduction compared with its standard 275ml bottle, while Co-operative Food will look at controlling calories in popular product lines and Burton's Biscuits will offer more portion control packs and review its recipes.
Ms Soubry said: "Being overweight and not eating well is bad for our health. To reverse the rising tide of obesity we have challenged the nation to reduce our calorie intake by five billion calories a day. On average that's just 100 calories less a day per person."
Responsibility Deal Food Network chairwoman Dr Susan Jebb said: "I'm pleased to see the soft drinks manufacturers like GSK, AG Barr and Britvic join Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to make some very real commitments to help consumers cut down on their calories as they take control of their weight. I hope we will now see others, including the out of home sector, taking a careful look at how they can build on this and come to the table with new commitments to encourage their customers choose smaller portions and swap to lower calorie options."
Food and Drink Federation director general Melanie Leech said: "We commend these businesses for joining existing pledge signatories in a shared commitment to support the calorie reduction challenge issued to the nation by ministers last year. Of the 31 pledge signatories, 15 are manufacturers, demonstrating our sector's willingness to engage and deliver improved public health outcomes under the deal."
British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said: "We welcome the commitments made by leading soft drinks producers. Our industry has been taking steps to reduce the calorie content of our drinks for many years now, and currently more than 60% of all soft drinks contain no added sugar."
The eight new drink and food manufacturers, supermarket and catering companies to have signed up to the pledge join 23 others including Mars and Tesco.