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Brits baffled by sugar tax

Nearly eight in 10 people are aware that there’s a new tax on sugar being introduced but they don’t have a clue what products will be covered.

In a survey of 539 adults by Nielsen, not one correctly identified that the levy only applies to sugary soft drinks. Two-thirds believed it would apply to sweets/sugared confectionery, 59% mistakenly cited chocolate and similar numbers said biscuits (57%) and cakes (56%) would become more expensive.

On average, consumers thought the levy would apply to at least four product categories, with more than one in four (28%) unaware that it will apply to soft drinks – which is actually the only category that will be taxed.

“Currently, there’s a huge misunderstanding about what products the sugar tax affects, so when it comes in, the government, manufacturers and retailers have an enormous education job on their hands to avoid unforeseen consequences beyond fizzy drinks,” said Sophie Jones, senior shopper analytics consultant at Nielsen.

The poll also looked at how the tax might affect people’s behaviour. Almost one in two (47%) said they would not change their buying habits, whilst 11% plan to switch the cheaper brands. Just under one in four (23%) said they’d buy fewer soft drinks and 13% plan to stop buying soft drinks altogether.

This suggested that “only 36% of people would do what the tax is aimed at – cutting down on sugary soft drinks”, Jones said.