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Sugar Tax shows low impact

The UK’s sugar tax has had minimal impact on consumer behaviour since its implementation in April this year, according to data from Nielsen.

Over 60% of UK shoppers claim to have not changed their consumption behaviour in any way post-sugar tax, and only one fifth are checking sugar content on packages more frequently since the tax has come into effect.

The findings come from a Nielsen survey which compared results from respondents prior to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy coming into effect on 6 April 2018 and now. Only 11% of shoppers claimed they planned to stop drinking sugary soft drinks prior to the tax; this number has fallen to just 1% post-tax. The number of people who said they would continue to buy sugary soft drinks also, surprisingly, grew post-tax, increasing from 31% in February to 44% in June.

Prior to the tax being rolled out, the majority of the UK supported the government-imposed levy, and some even felt it wasn’t strict enough. Fifty four per cent of respondents supported the tax, and since its implementation, 69% said it should be expanded to confectionery and biscuits.

Aylin Ceylan, Consumer and Shopper Partner, Nielsen said: “Sugar continues to be the number one health concern for the fourth consecutive year and initiatives like the Soft Drinks Industry Levy doubtless contribute to furthering awareness. While we haven’t seen any significant changes in consumer habits, we have seen manufacturers adapt accordingly. The average sugar content has been steadily decreasing in key FMCG categories such as carbonated drinks and breakfast cereals.”

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