Governments often justify imposing specific taxation of soft drinks (beyond VAT, etc.) on health grounds as a way to reduce sugar consumption and address non-communicable diseases, including overweight and obesity.

The soft drinks sector questions the effectiveness of such discriminatory taxes in reaching these public health goals and highlights the importance of a coordinated, multi-stakeholder approach to achieve positive health outcomes among the EU population.

The sector also points to the success of voluntary actions, such as sugar reduction commitments and reformulation, portion control, and consumer education in promoting healthy and balanced lifestyles. This is why under the umbrella of UNESDA, the European soft drinks sector has undertaken a number of new and enhanced commitments in 2021, which include:

  • reducing the average level of added sugars in our soft drinks1 by another 10% from 2019-2025 in the EU-27 and the UK and continuing to offer small pack sizes. This would bring the total added sugar reduction to 33% between 2000 and 2025.
  • strengthening further our commitment not to market or advertise any soft drinks to children across all media by raising the minimum age limit from 12 to 13 years and lowering the audience threshold to 30%, to ensure fewer young children will be directly exposed to advertising for any of our soft drinks.
  • intensifying our ongoing actions to ensure a robust school policy based on:
    • NO sales and advertising of any soft drinks in EU primary schools;
    • Offering ONLY no- and low-calorie soft drinks for sale in EU secondary schools and only in non-branded vending machines, without logos or commercial communications.
  • contributing to the establishment of an evidence-based, EU-wide and interpretative front-of-pack nutrition label that is meaningful for consumers, that encourages food producers to reformulate and is developed under an EU governance model.

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1  Includes still drinks, fruit drinks, carbonates, energy drinks, sports drinks, dilutables, iced teas and coffees, flavored waters. Excludes bottled waters, 100% juices, milk based and hot beverages.

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