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Yorkshire business welcomes new research findings highlighting sugar reduction across soft drinks sector

Jonathan Stott

A Yorkshire-based global business that helps makers of carbonated drinks to keep their fizz for longer has welcomed new research revealing that the total amount of sugar sold in soft drinks in the UK has reduced by almost a third (29%).

Experts at CO2Sustain say that the research, conducted on soft drinks sold between 2015-18 by the University of Oxford, is not only good news for consumers but also drinks brands and manufacturers looking to improve their production methods and reduce their carbon footprint.

Jonathan Stott of CO2Sustain said: “Sugar reduction of a third in carbonated drinks is to be widely welcomed from the perspective of health. However, reducing the amount of sugar in the liquid creates production problems for soft drinks brands and manufacturers who are looking to produce healthier products, which can dissuade some brands from trying to cut back on sugar content.

“Reducing the sugar content causes drinks to over foam meaning the bottles become harder to fill on production lines. This creates waste and lengthens production running times, requiring more time and energy to deliver the finished product. These line inefficiencies invariably lead to increases in costs.”

The research by the University of Oxford looked at the nutritional information of a range of soft drinks in the UK – including carbonated drinks, juice drinks, energy drinks and bottled water – and combined this with sales data from 2015-2018.

There has been considerable pressure on industry to reduce the sugar content of soft drinks and in April 2018, the British government introduced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) or ‘Sugar Tax’ to help tackle childhood obesity.

The research, published in BMC Medicine, shows that individual soft drink companies in the UK are making a significant contribution to sugar reduction, with eight out of the top 10 companies reducing the sugar content of their products by 15% or more.

The findings show that nearly three-quarters (73%) of the reduction seen in the amount of sugar sold in soft drinks was due to reformulation of existing products or the introduction of new, lower sugar drinks, and 27% was due to changes in purchasing behaviour.

CO2Sustain offers manufacturers and brands the ability to retain carbonation and extend carbonation shelf life, giving consumers longer lasting fizzy drinks.

From its manufacturing base in Leeds, CO2Sustain’s team of technical innovations chemists pioneered the preservative-free, foaming and carbonation aid to increase the CO2 content and extend the carbonation shelf life of soft drinks, using an exclusive patented formulation.

Continued Jonathan Stott: “CO2 loss begins during filling, and by the time a drink reaches a consumer it has lost up to 40% of its carbonation. This is worsened for manufacturers who are trying to reduce the amount of sugar in their liquids.”

The benefits of carbonated drinks producers switching to CO2Sustain to overcome the problem are considerable, added Jonathan: “Thanks to CO2Sustain, 20% more CO2 is solubilised within the liquid from the start, so there is more carbonation in the beverage from the point of filling leading to the drink having more CO2 throughout its entire life-cycle. Reducing sugar content is great news in the battle against obesity and also good business for manufacturers and retailers who can speed up production lines and hold more stock for longer – meaning less waste, increased product lifespan and improved profitability.”