Investment analysts at Schroders suggest that the move could lead to the major food and beverage producers facing pressure similar to that placed on the tobacco industry in the latter part of the 20th century, and those that are able to adapt most quickly will see their profits protected the best.
Elly Irving, Environmental, Social and Governance Analyst at Schroders, said: “It has been extensively publicised that sugar consumption contributes to a wide range of health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity (which collectively are known as metabolic syndrome).
“Over the years we have seen chefs, nutritionists and doctors campaigning for the reduction of sugar consumption in our everyday diet.”
Already some of the big brands have begun to respond to these concerns, with sugar-free versions of popular beverages commonplace not only on the shop shelves, but in many consumers’ cupboards at home, but smaller producers may be slower to react.
Schroders predict that as the big brands continue to revise their product portfolios in order to accommodate any changes in tax legislation, this gap between “industry leaders and laggards” will widen further.
For those in the medical professions, there may be new opportunities to advise brands of all sizes on the composition of their foods and beverages, and of how this nutritional content might affect the health of their customers at the point of consumption.
Where before this has often been a matter of taste, or of social responsibility in reacting to health concerns, the Sugar Tax puts a clearly defined economic impact on the issue too – and the new opportunities for those in nutrition-related disciplines are likely to emerge in healthcare accounting as the new tax comes into force.