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Tracy West: retail commentator
Published:  06 July, 2018

As a big soft drinks consumer, I've found it interesting to see how the Sugar Levy has been put into action in various retail outlets.

I only drink diet or zero drinks so the levy doesn't affect my drinking purchases. However, Mr West won't touch the artificials and so still opts for full fat Coke or Pepsi.

What has amazed me is the number of convenience retailers including forecourts that have not added the levy to their sugary drinks. Maybe they are still using up pre-levy stock? Or maybe they don't understand the levy? This means many are selling 330ml cans of Coke and Diet Coke for the same price so there's no price deterrent there. Whether they agree with the levy or not, data from Britvic states that if you sell 200 500ml bottles of full-rate levy products a week, it'll cost your business an extra £1,248 a year. And that's a lot of money in anyone's book. Conversely, I've been in stores where there is a price difference between Coke and Diet Coke but it's much more than the recommendations in the levy, where it seems the retailer is just 'trying it on'.

Meanwhile, try buying a full fat Coke in the supermarkets and you'll have trouble finding them. My local Sainsbury's has really gone all 'nanny state' and hidden the 500ml bottles of Red Coke and Pepsi right at the end of their food-to-go chillers I suppose in the hope that you will give up looking for them and opt for a diet or zero version. And don't get me started about the take-home packs in their ambient aisles. You need mountain climbing gear to get a four-pack of big bottles of Red Coke as some fool has put them on the top shelf.

I can see sugary drinks going the way of x-rated mags ie on the top shelf with most of them covered with a modesty wrapper. Or maybe being put behind the counter where you have to ask for them in a 'Pssst, have you got any sugary drinks?' kind of way.

Yes, we know obesity is a problem but depriving everyone of their favourite drink seems ridiculous.

Mr West and I were recently in Spain, where he actually said to me: "The Coke's cheap here. Don't they have the sugar tax?" "Not yet," I replied, and stocked up as even the Diet Coke was cheaper there.