Lucozade and Ribena, two famous brands of Japanese Food and Beverage Company, Suntory said it will cut 50% of the sugar content in its drinks in the UK and Ireland by next summer. The announcement comes ahead of a proposed sugar tax on sweetened beverages set to go into effect in both countries in 2018.
The company said it would reformulate all its drinks to contain less than 4.5g of total sugar per 100ml – the equivalent of one teaspoon. Currently, the drinks contain 13g and 10g of sugar per 100ml serving respectively.
Suntory said its decision to “reformulate” was to take advantage of the growing demand from consumers for healthier alternatives. They deny it had anything to do with the levy due to be introduced in 2018.
“You can’t reformulate your brands in a few months. This development has been in the pipeline for three years, ever since Suntory bought the brands,” said Cesar Vargas Martin, the company’s General Manager for Ireland.
“There has been a broader shift in the market,” he added “and we are going where our consumers are telling us to go.”
The company said they came up with the changes at Suntory’s UK laboratory, and will be introduced across its ranges in Both Britain and Ireland next July. Researchers devised the new alternatives to replace some of the sugar with other sweeteners without affecting the taste of the drinks, the company said.
In addition, the reformulated drinks will display the number of calories on the front of the packs, the company said.
The makers of Lucozade and Ribena will make all of its brands, including Orangina and V Energy to contain less than 4.5g of sugar per 100ml, below the British Government’s sugar tax on products containing 5g per 100ml or more.
Peter Harding, chief operating officer at Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) in Britain, said:
“Today’s announcement is a game changer for our business and for these people who love and enjoy our drinks,” he added.
“The world has changed, with consumers now wanting healthier drinks and more action from brands they regularly enjoy,” he said.
LRS will also spend £30m ($37m) over the next three years in sporting activities, especially for disadvantaged groups to get them to exercise more.