Drinks manufacturers search for new ways to weather UK sugar tax

By Nell Walker
Drinks manufacturers are preparing to adapt to the sugar tax before its implementation in 2018. Facing declining profits due to changing consumer tastes...

Drinks manufacturers are preparing to adapt to the sugar tax before its implementation in 2018. Facing declining profits due to changing consumer tastes and new legislation, sugary drinks manufacturers must start looking for ways to guarantee tighter control of their bottom line. For example, Coca-Cola Great Britain is preparing to spent £10 million on reformulating and rebranding Coke Zero after a survey revealed that only five in 10 people recognised that it was sugar-free.

There are other ways that drinks companies can adapt in the face of the sugar tax without the expense of a rebrand. According to Martyn Gill, General Manager at InfinityQS Europe: “Reducing container overfill is one of the most significant ways that beverage manufacturers can use data to streamline processes.

“By using an enterprise quality management solution, sugary drinks manufacturers can leverage statistical process control (SPC) methodologies to not only improve overall product quality, but also to pinpoint opportunities for improving manufacturing efficiencies and controlling processes to offset additional costs. One example would be to better control overall fill volumes of beverage products.  

“Because of regulatory requirements, organisations are afraid to under-fill a can or bottle. So they intentionally overfill to avoid regulatory fines or consumer backlash. Intentionally overfilling containers negatively impacts profits. If processes are tightly controlled, product giveaway becomes unnecessary.”

He continued: “In addition to improving processes within their own plants to recoup costs, beverage manufacturers must look to collaborate with suppliers and control processes throughout their supply chain. Using cloud-based technology, an enterprise quality management solution provides supply chain-wide visibility. That means drinks companies can connect with their suppliers, packaging companies, other partners to identify where they can realise additional savings during production processes.

“Once quality data are collected and made available in the system, it is easy to analyse those data values and identify where savings can be made. Sometimes small changes can save millions. For example, when packaging companies reduce the weight of a can or bottle by a fraction of a gram, it can translate into big savings”

By using enterprise quality management systems to establish visibility across the supply chain, drinks manufacturers and their suppliers can improve processes and reduce costs. This allows both parties to remain viable and profitable in the future without necessarily passing on the costs of the sugar tax to the consumer. 


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