A man in a supermarket looks at two different brands of bottled drink


The UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL), commonly referred to as the “Sugar Tax”, was announced in 2016 and came into force in 2018, and was applied to soft drinks which contain added sugar and have a total sugar content above a certain threshold. The tax was introduced in an effort to tackle obesity by reducing the consumption of drinks with added sugar, while encouraging manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of their products.

Research has shown that before the tax even came into force, over 50% of manufacturers had reformulated their products to reduce their sugar content. More recent studies have gone on to show that take-home soft drink sales between 2014 and 2020 fell by 44%. These findings raise questions about consumer choices in the face of reformulation and how these choices are influenced by the environments people shop in.

Our project will utilise individual-level data from Kantar Worldpanel datasets in Spain and the UK, to examine what drives consumer choices in the face of reformulation in the period between the Sugar Tax announcement and its implementation.

  • Principal Investigator: Professor Franco Sassi
  • Funder: Imperial College Business School Research Fund
  • Partners: Stephan Seiler (Marketing Department, ICBS)
  • Duration: July 2022 - July 2023