Press release

Sugar and calories cut in soft drinks

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Leading soft drinks brands Lucozade and Ribena will reduce the amount of sugar and calories in their products by up to 10 per cent as part of…

Leading soft drinks brands Lucozade and Ribena will reduce the amount of sugar and calories in their products by up to 10 per cent as part of the Government’s drive to curb obesity levels, Public Health Minister Anna Soubry announced today.

Speaking at the Food and Drink Federation’s ‘Delivering Healthy Growth’ stakeholder event, the minister unveiled the latest brands to sign up to the Responsibility Deal’s calorie reduction pledge. Ribena ready to drink and Lucozade Energy will reduce the amount of sugar and calories by up to 10 per cent; AG Barr, who produce IrnBru, will reduce the calorific content across their portfolio of drinks by five per cent; and J2O will launch two flavours in a new slim-line can which will represent a 10 per cent calorie reduction compared with their standard 275mL bottle.

The Public Health Responsibility Deal aims to tap into the potential for businesses and other influential organisations to make a significant contribution to improving public health by helping us to create this environment.

England has some of the highest obesity rates in the developed world with 60  per cent of adults and one third of 10 and 11 year olds being overweight or obese. The Government’s Obesity Call to Action outlined that consuming too many calories is at the heart of the problem and through initiatives like the Responsibility Deal Calorie Reduction pledge concerted action is needed.

Other pledges announced include:

Co-operative Food will look at controlling calories through a variety of measures, including establishing calorie guidelines and target levels in popular product lines; and

Burtons Biscuits Company will offer more portion control packs and will be reviewing its recipes to reduce calories where possible within its portfolio.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said:

“Being overweight and not eating well is bad for our health. To reverse the rising tide of obesity we have challenged the nation to reduce our calorie intake by five billion calories a day. On average that’s just 100 calories less a day per person.

“Today’s announcement will cut the calories and sugar by up to 10 per cent in leading brands like Lucozade and Ribena. Through the Responsibility Deal we are already achieving real progress in helping people reduce the calories and salt in their diet. Overall, more than 480 companies including many leading high street brands have signed up to the Responsibility Deal.

“All of the major supermarkets have now committed to removing artificial trans fats, and over 70 per cent of fast food and takeaway meals sold on the high street have calories clearly labelled, but more needs to be done.

“We are encouraged by the extra businesses which have signed up today but I want to see even more progress.  All in the food industry have a part to play and I now expect companies which are not yet taking action to come forward and make pledges.”

Chair of the Responsibility Deal Food Network Dr Susan Jebb said:

“I’m pleased to see the soft drinks manufacturers, like GSK, AG Barr and Britvic join Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to make some very real commitments to help consumers  cut down on their calories as they take control of their weight.”

“I hope we will now see others, including the out of home sector, taking a careful look at how they can build on this and come to the table with new commitments to encourage their customers choose smaller portions and swap to lower calorie options.”

Director General of the Food and Drink Federation Melanie Leech said:

“We commend these businesses for joining existing pledge signatories in a shared commitment to support the calorie reduction challenge issued to the nation by ministers last year. Of the 31 pledge signatories, 15 are manufacturers, demonstrating our sector’s willingness to engage and deliver improved public health outcomes under the Deal.

“On calorie reduction, and the other pledges already issued by the Food Network, we urge the Department of Health to continue its efforts to broaden engagement and bring in new companies to work with those of our members, and others, who have already made substantial commitments through the Responsibility Deal.”

The eight new drink and food manufacturers, supermarket and catering companies which have signed up today include GlaxoSmithKline, Co-Operative Food, Burtons Biscuits, AG Barr, Britvic, Dairy Crest Lexington Catering and CH&Co. They join the 23 companies including Mars and Tesco which have already pledged.

Notes to Editor

For further information contact the Department of Health press office on

020 7210 5301

Further highlights from the commitments being made by companies:

GlaxoSmithKline: Targets set (including by end 2013) for the reduction of calorie and sugars content across GSK’s drinks Lucozade Energy and Ribena ready to drink.

Co-operative Food: They will look at controlling calories through a variety of measures, including establishing calorie guidelines and target levels in popular product lines.

Burtons Biscuits: They will offer more portion control packs and will be reviewing its recipes to reduce calories where possible within its portfolio.

AG Barr: They will reduce the average calorific content per 100ml of their drinks’ portfolio by 5% by 2016.

Britvic: They will develop a formal health and wellbeing strategy and increase their packaging mix to include smaller pack sizes. This year they will launch J2O in a new 250 ml slim-line can.

Dairy Crest: They will develop new products and broaden their range of exisiting products, to include lower calorie options and a range of portion sizes to suit customers. This includes developing cheese and spread products which contain less fat and fewer calories; and introduce single serve varities of products, where the size of the serving is fixed and the calorie content per serving controlled.

Lexington Catering (a small contract catering company)

They will reduce the number of calories by providing new menu choices, portion control, and education information at Point of Sale, on labels and menus, as well as through informative and trained staff.

CH & Co (contract catering company consisting of eight subsidiary companies, turnover £73m)

They will be working with suppliers to source low calorie new products and will reduce portion sizes (i.e. working with existing juice supplier to offer a smaller unit of sale, particularly for smoothies, reducing calorie content by 40%).

In March 2012 we announced the first signatories to the calorie reduction pledge – in response to the Call to Action on Obesity published in October 2011. The pledge, developed through intensive work with business in the following months, focuses on reducing calories in products as well as encouraging and making it easier for people to make healthier choices.

Companies such as Asda, Coca-Cola GB, Mars, Tesco and Subway have already signed up.

About the Responsibility Deal

The Public Health Responsibility Deal aims to tap into the potential for businesses and other influential organisations to make a significant contribution to improving public health by helping us to create this environment.

Since launching in 2011, the Responsibility Deal has worked with industry to achieve the following:

  • over 70 per cent of the fast food and takeaway meals sold will have calories clearly labelled - almost 9,000 high street outlets by this year - with more companies signing up;
  • all of the major supermarkets and 69 per cent of the retail market have committed to removing artificial trans fats - some 97 companies in all;
  • over 70 per cent of the retail market and over half of the major high street and contract caterers are committed to further reductions in salt in over 80 categories of foods - such as bread, soups, cereals and pasta sauces;
  • over 80 per cent of all alcoholic drinks on shelf will have clear labelling on units, NHS guidelines and pregnancy messages by the end of next year - with 92 companies signed up (early indications are that over 60 per cent of labels already carry this information)
  • 23 leading food and drink companies, including Coca-cola, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods UK), Nestle, Subway and the major retailers had already signed up to the calorie reduction pledge – making some strong commitments to cut and cap calories, as well as through promotional activity encouraging people to eat healthier foods.  The additional signatories bring the total to 31.
  • 34 major alcohol companies have committed to removing a billion units from sale. The initiative, which includes major brands like Echo Falls, First Cape and Heineken will see a greater choice of lower strength alcohol products and smaller measures by 2015.