This week, the European soft drinks industry is announcing a bold new commitment, to reduce the average added sugar content of its still and carbonated soft drinks by 10% between 2015 and 2020.
 
This is the latest voluntary move by the industry to help consumers control their intake of sugar, enabling Europeans to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.
 
The new commitment, announced by the European soft drinks industry body UNESDA, comes on top of the 12% cut in sugar and calories already achieved between 2000 and 2015. This means that the rate at which sugar and calories are being removed from soft drinks in Europe will be effectively tripled, marking a considerable acceleration in the speed and scale of the industry’s efforts.
 
The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners have been working closely with the rest of the European soft drinks industry, and national associations, to advance this process, ensuring that the sector responds to consumers’ changing preferences regarding sugar. It also wants to ensure that the industry responds to calls from policy-makers at EU and national level, for reformulation and sugar reduction across the food industry.
 
“This latest voluntary initiative to reduce sugar shows the willingness of the European soft drinks industry to act and make a meaningful contribution to European public policy objectives to improve health,” says Sigrid Ligné, Director General of UNESDA.  

Long journey

The Coca-Cola Company started on a journey to reduce sugars from its beverages in Europe many years ago, through a mix of different tools: reformulation, innovation, smaller portion sizes and promoting low-and no-calorie drinks. 

In several countries, it already supports local sugar and calorie reduction pledges through the national soft drinks associations, such as in France, UK, Belgium, The Netherlands and others.
 
As Wouter Vermeulen, the company’s Group Director International Government Relations and Public Affairs, says: “With this new commitment, the beverage industry is now joining forces at a European level, reaching more than 500 million consumers, ensuring a coherent and consistent approach on added sugar reduction.”
 
Dan Sayre, Coca-Cola Western Europe Business Unit President, adds: “When national governments ask the local food and beverage industry to voluntarily contribute to their effort to reduce added sugar, we want to be the first to raise our hands and offer to help.”
 
Nikos Koumettis, Central and Eastern Europe Business Unit President, concludes: “As a company, we have always grown by listening and responding to our consumers, stakeholders and society at large. We agree that too much sugar isn’t good for anyone and want to enable consumers to better control their intake of added sugar. I believe that this and the other actions we are taking will help more people make the right decisions for them and their families.”
 
The European soft drinks industry’s action on sugar

  • Soft drinks represent less than 3% of calories in the average European diet
  • Average calories per 100 ml have been reduced by 12% from 2000-2015
  • Availability of pack sizes smaller than 330ml (standard can) increased 150% since 2006
  • There are now over 30 different packs to choose from
  • 66% of new product introductions are no and reduced sugar products
  • No and low sugar/calorie drinks represent over 30% of sales in several EU markets