MPs celebrate Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I’s commitment to health and wellbeing

From helping over 80,000 people stay active during lockdown, to reducing the sugar levels in its drinks, a new report highlights how Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I is helping consumers live active and healthy lifestyles.

In 2020, SBF GB&I’s promotion of healthier lifestyles continued at pace, with the owner of Lucozade and Ribena helping 80,000 people stay active during lockdown.

Furthermore, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, SBF GB&I has supported disadvantaged 16-24 year olds with the provision of online sports sessions and mental health/outreach support to those struggling to cope as part of its ‘B Active’ sport-for-development programme.

Shadow Health Minister Alex Norris MP welcomes the company’s work: “Talking obesity must be a major national priority, it leads to long-term health conditions, limits opportunity and, as we’ve seen over the last year, makes us vulnerable to other diseases.”

“I’m glad to see the work that Suntory is doing and call on all of industry to do its bit,” says Mr Norris.

SBF GB&I’s work throughout the pandemic is just part of its wider ‘Growing for Good’ vision which seeks growth in tandem with corporate social responsibility.

As well as inspiring more than 1.5 million to be more active through its “Made to Move” programme, fronted by Anthony Joshua, the company has delivered more than 238 tonnes of drinks to national food redistribution network FareShare since 2016.

Responding to SBF GB&I’s achievements, Rt Hon Mark Harper MP said: “Suntory is an innovative company that has shown a vote of confidence in the UK post-Brexit with significant investments in my constituency and elsewhere in the country – showing their commitment to our country’s bright future and our talented workforce.”

SBF GB&I’s Moving on Health and Wellbeing Report 2019-20 shows a strong focus on empowering the communities in which it works and to whom it sells.

Chief operating officer Carol Robert says: “Just as everyone should have access to free exercise, we believe that everyone should have access to food and drink.”

Robert continues: “The vision captures our ambition to continue growing as a company, and to help build a better, healthier and happier society as we do so”.

Further work last year included bolstering the production capacity of its lower-sugar drinks with a £13 million investment in its factory and delivery of 107,000 cases of drinks to NHS frontline workers and vulnerable adults throughout the pandemic.

But it is the company’s efforts in spearheading a reduction in sugar levels in its drinks that has earned the company plaudits from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Former Public Health Minister Steve Brine MP, who visited the company’s research and development lab in Uxbridge, says the decision to alter “beloved” recipes “raised eyebrows” among competitors, who were “likely rubbing their hands over what they presumed to be the outcome”.

“But it was an incredibly brave thing to do, taking some of the best-known brands in the market, Ribena, Lucozade, and turning them on their heads,” Mr Brine continues.

“They showed themselves to be ahead of the curve on what most other manufacturers have followed and have produced equally good products that are good for us, and good for business… Suntory really is one of leaders in this, and one of the pioneers on a mass scale.

“Furthermore, the move led to some really good staff relations within the company from people who wanted to work for a company pushing an agenda in such an enlightened way.”

Since the decision was first made in 2016, sugar content in SBF GB&I’s drinks has been cut by 57%, achieving an average sugar content of 3.7g per 100ml, and a pledge that no new core drinks with sugar contents exceeding 4.5g per 100ml will be launched.

Responding to this move, Mark Harper MP said: “It was really encouraging that Suntory led the industry responding to the Government’s sugar tax, showing what was possible and successfully adapting to a changing regulatory environment.”

Having made progress on reformulating its core brands, the company says it is now turning its efforts to launch healthier choices to an ever-more health-conscious consumer.

Several new Lucozade brands were launched last year, with Lucozade Revive leading the way, which the company says provides a gentler uplift than other energy drinks on the market and contains just 4.3g of sugar per 100ml.

John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare where the blackcurrants that make Ribena are processed, says: “Cutting the amount of sugar in hugely-popular family drinks like Ribena, without losing any of the flavour, is an easy way for all of us to live, eat and drink more healthily.

“That’s good for levelling up because trimming our waistlines reduces health inequalities, so more of us stay healthier and live longer too, no matter where we started from.”