The NFRN has joined forces with a host of industry associations representing more than 400,000 people across several sectors to fight against the Government’s proposed sugar tax.

The ‘Face the Facts, Can the Tax’ campaign is supported by a coalition of British businesses who have come together to highlight the damaging economic consequences of the tax and urge the Government to rethink the policy and focus instead on proven solutions that will address obesity.

The group includes soft drinks manufacturers, wholesalers, small shops, newsagents, restaurants, bars, and pubs. They are warning the tax will do nothing to tackle obesity, and risks causing thousands of job losses and higher prices for those who can least afford it.

The launch comes as a new report from Oxford Economics has highlighted the worrying economic damage the proposed soft drinks tax will have on British industry. The report predicts a loss of more than 4,000 jobs across the UK and a decline of £132 million in economic output.

The same report predicts that calorie consumption will drop by just five calories per person per day as a result of the tax – the equivalent of a bite of an apple.  Meanwhile, between 2004 and 2014, sales of ‘full sugar’ soft drinks fell 44%, and now contribute less than 3% of calories in the diet, yet obesity increased by around 4% in this same period.

The group recognise tackling obesity is a major public health challenge in the UK. The group wish to work with the Government and other stakeholders to deliver effective and holistic policy solutions.

However, the tax will not solve obesity and will instead result in job losses and higher prices when Government should be focused on meaningful measures to tackle obesity and supporting UK businesses and consumers.

Gavin Partington, Director General of the British Soft Drinks Association who are providing funding for the campaign said: “We absolutely agree with the Government that obesity levels are too high and action is needed, but burdening businesses and consumers with an ineffective tax is not the answer.

“We know from the evidence around the world where they’ve tried a tax that it will not make a difference to obesity. What it will do, as this report shows, is damage thousands of businesses across the entire soft drinks supply chain, from farmers, to manufacturers, to convenience stores and the pub and restaurant trade.

“At a time of economic uncertainty the Government needs to be supporting these businesses and working with industry to support actions that are already making a difference, such as reformulation, smaller packs, and more marketing of the many no sugar options now available.”

Commenting on the proposed sugar tax, NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “Our members are small business owners that are struggling to make ends meet in a very difficult economy.

“Piling on more ill-thought-out policies that will only make things more difficult for retailers while doing nothing to address the serious problem of obesity does not make sense. This Government must rethink the approach.”

Founding supporters of the campaign include:

  • The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), which represents the interests of 15,000 independent news and convenience retailers throughout the UK and Ireland.
  • The Automatic Vending Association. The Automatic Vending Association which has 200 companies in membership and represents 80% of the turnover in the UK vending market.
  • The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which represents approximately 20,000 pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants on the high street.
  • The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading body representing Britain’s brewers and pub companies.
  • The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), which represents a range of soft drinks companies with manufacturing, distribution and sales and marketing operations in the UK.
  • British Sugar PLC is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods and is the sole producer of sugar from sugar beet in the United Kingdom.
  • The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), whose members support 400,000 retail and foodservice businesses nationwide and generate £2.8BN gross added value to the UK economy and £460M in tax to The Exchequer.
  • The Food & Drink Federation and The Scottish Food and Drink Federation, which represents small and large companies from the UK’s largest manufacturing sector (accounting for 16% of the total manufacturing sector by turnover) and which employs 400,000 people in the UK.
  • The National Farmers’ Union Sugar Board, NFU Sugar, which represents sugar beet growers in the UK.
  • Packaging manufacturers Alpla, Plastipak and Pulse.
  • The Scottish Grocer’s Federation, which is the national trade association representing the 5,500 convenience stores in Scotland and their 42,000 employees.
  • The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, whose members include publicans, hoteliers, restaurateurs, late night entertainment venues, clubs and licensed grocers.

To find out more about the campaign, visit

Related content