Britain’s biggest supermarket chain is joining the ‘war on sugar’ and axing some of its best-selling children’s drinks in a bid to tackle childhood obesity. Health campaigners have greeted the “great news” as they urge parents to make their children drink water and challenge other supermarkets to follow suit.
The Daily Mail reports Tesco will cull its range of added-sugar soft drinks ahead of ‘Back To School Monday’ on 7 September. Famous brands such as CCE’s Capri-Sun, AG Barr’s Rubicon, Princes’ Jucee and Suntory’s Ribena will be affected as the supermarket reacts to what it believes are growing concerns over health and obesity.
Speaking to The Grocer trade magazine, Tesco’s soft drinks buying manager David Beardmore said the supermarket will drop added-sugar products as part of its bid to improve the healthiness of its own-label range as well as pledging an ongoing five per cent year-on-year reduction in sugar across its soft drinks category.
The lunch box drinks will be replaced on the shelves either by no-added-sugar alternatives or by Tesco no-added-sugar own-label products. Beardmore told The Grocer:
“This is part of our 10-point plan against obesity and we have decided that from September we will only sell no-added-sugar drinks in the kids’ juice category. Most of the suppliers are supportive of it and understand what we are doing.”
“This is great news and shows that Tesco is taking the issue of sugar in soft drinks seriously, and all other supermarkets should follow their lead.
“Children should not be drinking sweet, soft drinks and parents should make sure they switch to water instead.”
Not happy with merely demanding that parents “make sure” their children drink water rather than soft drinks, another health campaigner added a warning to other supermarkets not willing to appease their anti-sugar crusade. The coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, Malcolm Clark, told The Grocer:
“This is exactly the right policy and it’s what we’ve been calling for… There is now a real challenge for the rest of the industry to step up and show they are willing to play ball.”
Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer, commented on the move. Highlighting his conflicted reaction he admitted a part of him “thinks this is a really sensible idea” but went on to say “another part of me worries where all this ends.”
Predicting conflict ahead with ever-more zealous health lobbyists demanding limits on consumer choice, Leyland warned of Tesco facing “hostility on a number of sides”. He asked whether the supermarket will “really go to war with the likes of Coca Cola”, pointing out that it remains the UK’s number one grocery brand and “is a favourite with kids” he questioned the impact it could have on sales.
Leyland concluded by asking:
“And if it doesn’t, how will the health lobby react? They won’t be happy until all sugary products have been removed from the shelves altogether.”