‘The soft drinks industry needs to adopt a more healthy portfolio’ says BSDA president

The soft drinks industry has to adapt and change to produce a more healthy portfolio while allowing customers to make their own decisions, according to the British Soft Drinks Assocation’s president Peter Harding.

Speaking at the annual British Soft Drinks Association (BDSA) industry lunch today (15 October), Harding warned that previous successes are no guarantee for future prosperity, citing McDonald’s ongoing store closures in the US amid falling sales as an example.

“[McDonald’s] offers us a lesson that we have to adapt, change and we have to meet the modern demands of consumers, retailers, society and regulators to produce a more healthy portfolio and agenda for the future while preserving the right of consumers to make their own choices,” he said.

Harding claimed that the soft drinks industry had faced “constant scrutiny” this year over its product formulations and marketing practices despite its progress, which is “largely unreported”.

“The majority of soft drinks sold are low or no calorie, which shows that the industry is adapting and developing. There have also been more responsible marketing programmes too, which encourage consumers to have soft drinks as a treat,” he explained.

Sugary drinks have been making the headlines regularly over the past year, with Jamie Oliver calling for an implementation of a “sugar tax” – something that the Government rejected earlier this month.

Groups such as The British Heart Foundation have also called for the Government to ban the ‘aggressive’ advertising of unhealthy food high in salt, fat and sugar before the 9pm watershed.

Meanwhile, a public consultation on introducing new rules for non-broadcast advertising of unhealthy food to children has just been launched by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP).

Harding, however, believes that the current debate around sugar is “missing the point” and that there should be of a focus on improving physical activity rates.

He explained: “It’s simple – it’s about calories going in, and calories going out. Research by Cambridge University shows that just one fifth of 11 to 15-year-olds do the minimum amount of exercise, while in February numerous royal colleges described exercise as the miracle cure and that it is far too often overlooked by doctors. As a result, physical activity rates need to increase, and the soft drinks industry can do more to help with that transition.”

To achieve this, the BSDA is calling on other sectors in the food and drink industry to “play their part” and “work constructively together”.

“We are currently in discussions with the Government and the wider food industry to see what we can do to tackle the obesity crisis,” Harding concluded.

  • Hear all about the importance of driving change from the inside out and managing brand perception at this year’s Festival of Marketing. Taking place on 11 and 12 November there will be 12 stages and hundreds of speakers. Click here for information and to book tickets.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here