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Coca-Cola Amatil announces sugar cuts and recipe change

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AUSTRALIANS might have to contend with a different taste to some of their favourite sweet drinks after backlash from health-conscious consumers.

The local arm of the Coca-Cola Company announced it’s set to change the recipe of some of its most popular soft drinks as consumers shun sugar-laden drinks, and calls for a sugar tax grow louder.

The change will affect even its full-sugar drinks, such as the Fanta flavours and Sprite.

Fairfax Media reported Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Alison Watkins as saying the company had plans to reduce sugar levels in its Australia and New Zealand products by 10 per cent by 2020.

“We’re doing it either just by making things less sweet over time, gradually, or by using stevia, which is a naturally derived sweetener, to replace some of the sugar,” Ms Watkins said.

Sugar taxes will be in place in more than 30 countries by the end of this year, including the UK, and health experts have said the tax could help make inroads into Australia’s obesity epidemic.

It’s also thought a sugar tax could raise $500 million a year.

Ms Watkins told Fairfax she did not believe sugar taxes improved public health, and that the company’s recipe-changing decision was driven by consumers, not an impending tax.

She said the company was introducing low or no-sugar varieties of its major brands, and by changing the formula of its “original products,” according to Fairfax Media.

“Obviously taking these actions, if we do end up in a scenario of a sugar tax we’ll be in a better place anyway, but that’s not what’s driving us at the moment,” she said.

Coca-Cola Amatil is 30 per cent owned by the Coca-Cola Company, and has cut the sugar on 22 products sold in Australia since 2015.

Executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition Jane Martin told Fairfax Media the sugar-cutting strategy needed to extend to full-sugar products.

“They’re responding to consumers, because Australians are concerned about sugar and people are shifting away from full sugar drinks because of that,” Ms Martin said.

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