• Image source: Getty Images
    Image source: Getty Images
  • A flavour reformulation and brand refresh for Coca-Cola No Sugar aims to bring its taste closer to Coke Classic. (Image source: Coca-Cola Australia)
    A flavour reformulation and brand refresh for Coca-Cola No Sugar aims to bring its taste closer to Coke Classic. (Image source: Coca-Cola Australia)
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Australia’s largest beverage companies have raised the agreed sugar reduction target to 25 per cent by 2025, up five percentage points on the target set in 2018.

Australian Beverages Council Ltd (ABCL) CEO Geoff Parker said the industry was ahead of the existing target, with more than 16 per cent of sugar removed across non-alcohol beverage portfolios since 2015.

In 2018, Asahi Beverages, Coca-Cola South Pacific, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, and PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand, committed to reducing sugar across their non-alcohol beverage portfolios by 20 per cent from 2015-2025. Together they account for roughly 80 per cent of industry volume.  

The companies achieved a seven per cent cut in the first year, the next five per cent was achieved in a third of the time.

In 2020, a 22-year longitudinal study found Australians had shifted their beverage preferences to more low- and no-sugar varieties, with health a major factor in the changing consumption.

At the time, Parker told Food & Drink Business that while convenience and enjoyment were purchasing mainstays, the study revealed a “very different” drinks fridge in 2018 compared to 1997.

“Consumers are looking for different products across and range of categories and in beverages, people are more discerning in choosing a specific drink for a specific occasion,” Parker said.

On announcing the updated pledge, Coca-Cola South Pacific vice president Rob Priest said the company had reformulated 27 products since 2015.

“Coca-Cola Australia continues to support Australians in making choices that are right for them and their lifestyles… and continue to grow our low and no sugar options, including Coca-Cola No Sugar,” Priest said.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Australia, Pacific and Indonesia vice president and GM, Peter West, said, “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made to reduce sugar in our portfolio, and at the same time retain the choice we offer consumers through a range of low and no sugar options and pack sizes.

“Our commitment to reach a 25 per cent sugar reduction by 2025 demonstrates our continued efforts as an industry to help Australians manage their sugar intake.”

Some of the initiatives undertaken by pledge signatories are:

  • reformulating existing products;
  • increasing the sales volume of low and no sugar varieties;
  • introducing additional low and no sugar varieties into the market;
  • a cap in sugar content on all existing drinks brands;
  • a cap in sugar on new recipes launched in Australia;
  • where practical, transition vending machines to include more, low or no sugar varieties;
  • encouraging sales through the promotion and marketing of low or no sugar varieties;
  • introducing smaller pack sizes or reducing average container sizes;
  • investing in improved nutritional literacy; and
  • other initiatives including the promotion of smaller packs and working with community-based organisations in order to promote healthier choices.

Parker said, “Australian consumers want less sugar and more choices, and Australian beverage companies have responded.”

West said Coca-Cola has more than 20 brands in Australia including no-added sugar dairy and juices, kombucha, still, sparkling, and unsweetened flavoured water, iced-tea, and no sugar sports drinks.  

A flavour reformulation and brand refresh for Coca-Cola No Sugar aims to bring its taste closer to Coke Classic. (Image source: Coca-Cola Australia)

The company released its latest iteration of Coca-Cola No Sugar in September last year, claiming the new recipe brought No Sugar closer to its goal of being imperceptible in flavour to Coke Classic.

The new look and new flavour were backed by a $6 million marketing campaign. Across its portfolio in Australia, Coca-Cola has committed 90 per cent of its CCTM marketing spend to No Sugar drinks.

In May, West told Food & Drink Business it was about three years away for Coca-Cola No Sugar to start outselling Coca-Cola Classic. 

It has also released the world first Coca-Cola No Sugar Frozen, providing a no-sugar alternative to its bestselling frozen soft drink, and voluntarily adopted front of pack Health Star Ratings across more than 80 per cent of its portfolio.

 Progress against the Sugar Reduction Pledge will continue to be independently aggregated annually by KPMG and a report on progress towards the sugar reduction target made public.

The Australian Beverages Council Ltd (ABCL) is the peak body representing the non-alcoholic beverage industry. Its membership includes micro, small, medium-sized, and large companies, which collectively produce more than 95 per cent of the industry’s volume. ABCL members contribute $7+ billion to the Australian economy each year, and nationally employ more than 46,000 full time equivalent jobs. Every one job in the industry supports 4.9 jobs in the supply chain.

 

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