The sugar tax

Two Coca-Cola Bottles on Ice

Find out what the Government's soft drinks tax means for our drinks and you.

At The Coca‑Cola Company, we’re constantly looking at ways to improve things and provide people with a wide range of drinks that meet their needs.

However, of course, those needs differ. For some, nothing matters except great taste and refreshment; there are others who want to experiment with new drinks; some who want to taste new flavours; and a growing number of people who want a refreshing soft drink with less or no sugar. Our success depends on adapting to meet these evolving needs.

But we also know there are people who like things just as they are. Top of that list is the brand on which our business was built – the iconic, 130-year-old, Coca‑Cola Original Taste.

In this respect, we decided not to change the recipe of Coca‑Cola Original Taste when the Government introduced the Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax (SSDT) in May 2018

Because the tax rate was so high on Coca‑Cola Original Taste, we passed on the tax in full to retailers – as the Government expected manufacturers to do. On some packs, this was done through a combination of smaller pack sizes and higher prices. For example, we replaced our 1.75L bottle with a 1.5L bottle as a direct result of the tax. We also decided to increase the size of the 1.75L bottles of Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke to 2L, so our zero sugar alternatives are even better value for people.

While it wasn’t easy, we made the decision based on the views of the people who enjoy our drinks. We believe that if Coca‑Cola Original Taste is the drink you prefer, you should be able to choose it. And, as many of you know, if you want the great taste of Coke but without any sugar, there is Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar – now in a variety of flavours.  

We also decided to change the recipe of other brands in our portfolio, to lower their sugar content. Many of these brands, including FantaSpriteDr Pepper, and Oasis, we reformulated before the new tax was announced, so the changes made to the recipes were modest. Unlike many brands, we didn’t have to halve the sugar content in one giant leap. Also, the continued success of these brands and positive feedback from people certainly suggests that they all still taste great!

It was important for us to strike the right balance between helping people to reduce the sugar they consume from our drinks and offering choice, great taste, and the drinks you actually want. We believe we succeeded – changing recipes without compromising on taste where possible, leaving Coca‑Cola original taste as it always has been and continuing to offer an even wider range of lower and no sugar drinks. As a result, when the tax came into effect the vast majority of our drinks were not subject to it.

We still believe the Government’s tax on a very small number of products that contain sugar will not reduce obesity rates – which is its stated objective. The fact is that as the sugar we consume from soft drinks has declined rapidly over the last decade, obesity rates have continued to rise. Nevertheless, we had to respond to the tax as a business and wanted to make you aware of the changes that resulted.

As a company, we will continue to listen and respond to consumers and expand into new categories to offer people an even wider choice of drinks. 

Want to learn more about what's in our drinks? Read our guide to aspartame and sweeteners.