Soft Drinks Industry Levy: getting your business standard-ready
Taking inspiration from countries like France and Mexico, the UK Government is implementing the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (sugar levy) on 6 April 2018.
With the aim of helping reduce obesity levels and promote healthier lifestyles, the sugar levy encourages producers and importers of soft drinks that contain sugar to:
- Remove added sugar
- Promote diet drinks
- Reduce portion sizes for high sugar drinks
From April 2018 onwards, the sugar levy will make soft drinks companies pay a charge for drinks with added sugar and total sugar content of five grams or more per 100 millilitres – about 5% sugar content. There is a higher charge for the drinks that contain eight grams or more per 100 millilitres, about 8% sugar content.
Pure fruit juices won’t be taxed because they don’t contain added sugar. Neither will drinks that have a high milk content because they contain calcium and other nutrients that are important for a healthy diet.
Managing your GTINs
If your business produces, packages or brings into the UK soft drinks with added sugar you may need to register for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy from 6 April 2018.
Manufacturers will be busy reformulating their products before the sugar levy is introduced and we want to remind businesses that an important part of getting your business ready should also include how you manage your Global Trade Item Number (GTIN):
- If you are changing the formulation of your drinks so that they go from any amount of added sugar to no added sugar, you should allocate a new GTIN to the updated version – through GS1 UK’s resource My Numberbank
- Any change to the formulation of a product that affects the legally-required declared information on the packaging of a product and where the brand owner expects the consumer or supply chain partner to distinguish the difference, requires a new GTIN - both conditions must be met when assigning a new GTIN in this instance
- If you are changing the formulation of your drinks so that you are reducing the amount of sugar, you need to consider the GTIN Management Guiding Principles. Once you have read the guidance and come to the opinion that the reduction in sugar means that any of the Guiding Principles are going to be affected – you should allocate a new GTIN
- If the reduction in sugar is small enough so that you your customers or the supply chain would remain unaffected – keep the same GTIN
- If you allocate a new GTIN then there will be knock-on effects – you’ll need a new product barcode, your cases and pallets will change, and your internal systems will need updating too
It is the brand owner’s choice to allocate new GTINs or not when considering the impact of the sugar levy. But what’s important to remember is that consumers need the right information about the products they buy. Our advice is to act now and change your GTINs so that retailers can update this vital information across their supply chains, in their stores and on their online channels.
We're here to help
For further support, including understanding whether the sugar levy applies to your business or how to allocate a new GTIN, then we are here to help:
- Review the GTIN Management Standard to easily understand when new GTINs should be applied to product variants
- Watch our brilliant animated video which will explain how GS1 standards can be used to benefit you and your business
- We host a range of regular webinars to help you understand GS1 standards, including introduction sessions to understand GTINs
- We can also visit your offices or workshop and deliver bespoke training to help you understand how to manage your GTINs