Boss of British Sugar voices unease at Government tax plans for soft drinks

Charles Sinclair, chairman of Associated British Foods.
Charles Sinclair, chairman of Associated British Foods.
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The owner of British Sugar has voiced its unease at Government plans to impose a Sugar Tax on soft drinks.

Charles Sinclair, chairman of Associated British Foods, warns it is not clear the planned levy will help the Government in its battle to reduce rising levels of obesity.

British Sugar's factory in Bury St Edmunds.

British Sugar's factory in Bury St Edmunds.

Mr Sinclair outlined his concerns at Chancellor George Osborne’s proposals as the company released its interim trading results for the six months to the end of February this year.

British Sugar, which has its head office in Sugar Way, Peterborough, and operates factories in Hollow Road, in Bury St Edmunds, and College Road, Wissington, in King’s Lynn, employing about 500 people, produces more than a million tonnes of sugar from about seven million tonnes of sugar beet.

Mr Sinclair said; “The UK Chancellor’s 2016 budget included proposals for the introduction of a soft drinks levy in the UK aimed at addressing rising levels of obesity.

“There is uncertainty as to how these proposals may be implemented.

Obesity has been, and continues to be, a complex issue driven by many different factors.

Charles Sinclair, chairman

“Obesity has been, and continues to be, a complex issue driven by many different factors.

He added: “We remain committed to informing and educating consumers about the role that sugar can play in the diet and lifestyle.”

Revenue at AB Foods’ sugar business dropped nine per cent to £843 million.

It said once currency fluctuations had been taken into consideration it rose three per cent with an operating profit of £6 million.

British Sugar's factory in King's Lynn.

British Sugar's factory in King's Lynn.

Mr Sinclair said: “Low world prices and the remaining uncertainty expected from the withdrawal of EU sugar quotas in October 2017 underline the imperative to focus on low-cost production.”

The company has agreed to buy the remaining shares in Illovo Sugar, which is the largest sugar producer in Africa.

Underlying pre-tax profits at AB Foods rose four per cent to £466 million for the 24 weeks to 27 February, with revenue falling two per cent to £6.1 billion.

Revenues at Primark increased by five per cent to £2.7 billion with operating profit falling three per cent to £313 million.

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