High street coffee chains failing to reduce sugar despite the UK Government’s Sugar Reduction Programme

03 December 2019

Many high street coffee chains are failing to make progress towards Public Health England’s voluntary sugar reduction targets with their festive milk and milk alternative hot beverages – most of which would be eligible for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) – according to a NEW nationwide survey by Action on Sugar, based at Queen Mary University of London.

The survey, which analysed both the sugar and calorie content of the largest available sizes of hot chocolates and seasonal lattes made with milk and milk alternatives (i.e. oat, almond, coconut, soya, rice-coconut) by popular high street chains, revealed certain seasonal beverages contain almost as much sugar as three cans of Coca Cola. Furthermore, most of the largest available size products surveyed would receive a red traffic light for total sugars (>13.5g/portion).

According to the survey findings, the worst hot chocolate ‘offender’ contains a staggering 23 teaspoons (93.7g) of sugar in one drink, and a whopping 758 calories!

Action on Sugar is now urging the next government to ensure that the mandatory SDIL will be extended to both sugary milk and milk-alternative based drinks in order to create a much needed level-playing field.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead at Obesity Action Scotland says: “It is extremely disappointing to see that many high street coffee chains are still failing to reduce sugar in their milk-based and milk-alternative hot drinks, despite the UK Government’s Sugar Reduction Programme which aimed to encourage voluntary action. This demonstrates clearly the need for a mandatory approach and we would urge the UK Government to take steps to include milk-based drinks with added sugar and liquid drink flavourings in the SDIL.”