Oct 12th, 2020
5 mins

Public Health England has published ‘Sugar reduction: report on progress between 2015 and 2019’. This is available online at:

[Please note that there is an error in the baseline year for juice and milk-based drinks on page 4; we have been advised this will be corrected in due course. The baseline for retailers and manufacturer branded juice and milk-based drinks is 8 September 2017. This is correct elsewhere in the report]

Retailers and manufacturer branded products:

Overall progress achieved is comparable to previous annual reports. There has been progress in some, but not all, food categories. Progress achieved by retailers and manufacturers at brand and product level is mixed. Some businesses are making progress whilst others are showing little or no change, and some brands are showing increases in their sales weighted average for both sugar and calorie content. Data suggests that overall, retailers branded products have changed to a greater extent than manufacturer branded products.

Eating out of home sector:

There has been hardly any change in the simple average sugar content since the baseline of 2017. Comparisons for this sector between different years of the programme should be treated with caution however due to the differing number and profile of products included in each dataset. The analysis shows a reduction of 9.7% in the calories likely to be consumed on a single occasion suggesting that, for the products included in the current analysis, this sector has focused more on reducing portion size than the sugar content of products. However, the simple average calories per single serve remains higher than for retailers and manufacturer branded products across all categories, apart from chocolate confectionery.

Soft Drinks:

The sugar levels of soft drinks subject to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) have continued to fall. The reductions have been much larger when compared with the food categories in the sugar reduction programme and have been achieved despite an overall increase in sales of soft drinks.

It should be noted, however, that reducing sugar in drinks is more straightforward than it is for some food categories because sugar generally does not provide functionality beyond taste to drinks.

It should also be noted that conclusions cannot be drawn on the extent to which these changes are caused by the levy as this analysis does not take into account other factors or trends that could be important in determining patterns of drink purchases, including price changes.

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