COCA-COLA is launching a new and improved sugar-free drink this Summer to combat obesity, in light of the government’s sugar tax.
In the company’s biggest UK investment for more than a decade, ‘Coca-Cola Zero Sugar’ will be supported by a £10 million marketing campaign to get more people to choose their sugar-free alternative.
Jon Woods, Coca-Cola Great Britain General Manager, said: “Our commercial strategy has focused on accelerating the growth of our no sugar options.
“We know that millions of people love the taste of Coca-Cola and we have been working to refine the recipe of Coca-Cola Zero to match the taste of the original, but without sugar.”
The reformulation comes after George Osborne announced a sugar tax on the soft drinks industry last month, as part of the government’s 2016 Budget.
As part of the tax, due to take effect in 2018, each soft drink manufacturer will be calculated a levy related to the quantity of sugar-sweetened drinks they produce.
These companies had been given two years to reformulate their products – but Coca-Cola have responded in less than a month.
Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, is concerned that Coca-Cola could still challenge the tax though, saying that the company should stop advertising Coca-Cola Classic – its regular sugar-filled drink.
Talking on Newsweek, he said: “Coca-Cola haven’t taken the steps that Pepsi took some years ago, when they only marketed Pepsi Max and refused to advertise the full sugar variant. Coca Cola is not promising to do that.
“We are also yet to see Coca Cola publicly rule out a legal challenge to the sugary drinks tax, which is a worrying sign.”
Local Kingston resident and mother-of-three, Julie Downes, is also worried the new sugar-free alternative will still be bad for children’s health.
The 46-year-old said: “Just because it’s sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you. I’ve seen many of my children’s friends get terrible tooth problems from drinking too much of the ‘diet’ drinks, so it’s not just obesity we have to worry about.