Society’s sweet tooth supported the rise and dominance of sugary fizzy drinks in the 1850s and now poses a national health risk. One in three children in the UK leave primary school overweight and one in 20 adults suffer from diabetes. The fizzy drinks industry has tried to brush aside these health criticisms by offering smaller can and bottle sizes, in addition to using sweeteners instead of sugar.
Colas remain the nation’s favourite flavour with 53% of fizzy drinks consumed in 2012 being cola flavoured.
See our comparison of the sugar content and caffeine levels in colas.
The Coca-Cola Company continues to dominate the soft drinks market with its $29 billion business including four out of the five top selling brands: Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite. In addition to its own brands, the company holds licensing and distribution agreements for over 500 drink brands. Coca-Cola manufactures and distributes Monster Energy Drinks throughout the UK. The Monster Energy brand therefore received marks from The Coca-Cola Company and the Monster Beverage Corporation. Coca-Cola also has majority ownership of the not-so-innocent Innocent Smoothies.
Coca-Cola remains the subject of a boycott by the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, with the aim of “holding The Coca-Cola Company, its bottlers and subsidiaries accountable and to end the gruesome cycle of violence and collaboration with paramilitary thugs, particularly in Colombia”.
Human rights complaints continue to be made against the company, with sixteen black and Hispanic production workers claiming they had been forced to work in “a cesspool of discrimination”.
The company also received negative marks for a number of animal rights issues. Several of its drinks (Lilt, Schweppes Orange Squash and Five Alive Apple Five Fruit Blend), were found to contain fish gelatine, and several of the company’s subsidiaries continued to sponsor bloodsports at many of the world’s largest rodeos.
See detailed company information, ethical ratings and issues for all companies mentioned in this guide, by clicking on a brand name in the Score table.
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This product guide is part of a Special Report on Soft Drinks. See what's in the rest of the report.