Soft drinks industry’s sugar reduction commitments across Europe

Over the past decades, Europe’s soft drinks sector has been on a sugar reduction journey to offer healthier drink options and promote moderate consumption. This page gives a snapshot of the industry’s continued reformulation efforts and was prepared to provide some useful information on the sugar reduction commitments that UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe and its national members have made to date.

It should be noted that national markets across Europe differ significantly from one another in terms of the established product range and consumer preferences. Therefore, the data presented cannot be used for benchmarking purposes.

  • UNESDA'S COMMITMENTS
  • ONGOING NATIONAL COMMITMENTS >2020
  • FORMER NATIONAL COMMITMENTS <2020
Ongoing UNESDA’s commitments
Objective 10%* reduction
Baseline 2019
Deadline 2025
Metric Calories
Products All soft drinks categories, excl. waters and juices
Former UNESDA’s commitments
Objective 10% reduction 10% reduction
Baseline 2000 2015
Deadline 2015 2019
Metric Calories Calories
Products All soft drinks categories, excl. waters and juices All soft drinks categories, excl. waters and juices
Achieved reduction -13.3% by 2015 -14.6% by 2019

Notes

  • Sugar refers to added sugars.
  • To calculate the results achieved, UNESDA uses Global Data while all our national associations use their own methodology.
  • *additional targets, on top of previous achievements.

Notes

  • Sugar refers to added sugars.
  • To calculate the results achieved, UNESDA uses Global Data while all our national associations use their own methodology.
  • *additional targets, on top of previous achievements.

Notes

  • Sugar refers to added sugars.
  • To calculate the results achieved, UNESDA uses Global Data while all our national associations use their own methodology.

What is UNESDA’s new commitment about?

UNESDA has committed to reduce average added sugars in soft drinks by another 10% from 2019-2025 across the EU-27 and the UK. This commitment is applicable to all product categories under UNESDA’s remit including sparkling and still soft drinks but excludes bottled water, 100% juices, milk based and hot beverages.

Why is the soft drinks industry taking this commitment to reduce added sugars by another 10%?

With its new pledge, UNESDA wants to continue to provide consumer choice and encourage consumers towards healthier food and drink choices. Our voluntary actions have delivered results and, thus, we believe that meaningful voluntary actions are an efficient alternative to regulation.

Making the healthier choice become the easy choice for consumers is part of our contribution to the European Commission’s objective of a healthier and more sustainable food system. We fully support the EU Farm to Fork Strategy as part of the pathway to ensure healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all (UN Sustainable Development Goal 3.4) and to accelerate Europe’s green transition.

How are UNESDA’s sugar reduction commitments achieved?

UNESDA can deliver on its sugar reduction commitments through a wide range of accelerated actions, including:

  • change recipes to reduce sugars in its drinks whilst maintaining great taste.
  • innovate to increase the number of new no- or low- calorie products with different sweetness levels.
  • increase the availability and range of small packs to support portion control and enable moderate consumption.
  • continue promoting no- and low-sugar/calorie beverages to actively encourage consumer choice towards these products.
  • monitor compliance with the new commitments through independent, third-party audits.

UNESDA’s sugar reduction journey so far

The European soft drinks industry has made significant investments in reformulation and new product development to reduce sugar. No- and low-calorie versions now represent over 25% of soft drinks sales across Europe – and over 40% in several markets.

UNESDA’s members delivered significant sugar reductions from 2000-2019:

  • 13.3% reduction in average added sugars between 2000 and 2015.
  • 14.6% reduction in average sugars between 2015 and 2019.

The soft drinks industry is the only sector to have committed to the EU added sugars reduction target of 10% by 2020 as laid out in the Added Sugars Annex. The latest research conducted by independent auditors Global Data shows an average of 14.6% added sugars reduction between 2015-2019.

Providing more choice and smaller pack sizes

The European soft drinks industry offers a wide variety of soft drinks – many of which contain no, or low calories – encouraging balanced diets, while providing enjoyment and hydration. In the last decade, over 60% of all new beverages that the industry has introduced are no or low sugar and calories.

It also provides a host of different packaging options and pack sizes that allow consumers to choose a product to suit their lifestyle and energy needs. In particular, the industry has invested in offering consumers the choice of over 30 different pack formats under 300ml.

Committed to the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices

UNESDA is a firm supporter of the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices launched by the European Commission in 2021. The EU Code of Conduct offers a unique opportunity to make Europe’s food systems more sustainable. It prioritises the key objectives of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and the EU Circular Economy Action Plan to make the healthier choice the easy choice and accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

UNESDA has taken a very pro-active approach in making far-reaching commitments in several key areas at EU level, including sugar reduction. Its new commitment to reduce added sugars in its soft drinks by another 10% by 2025 in the EU-27 and the UK shows its ongoing efforts to offer healthier drink choices and nudge consumers towards no and low-calorie soft drinks.

UNESDA’s new sugar reduction pledge is part of its commitments to the EU Code of Conduct. Find out more here.

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