Soft drinks

Shopping guide to Fizzy drinks, from Ethical Consumer

Shopping guide to Fizzy drinks, from Ethical Consumer


This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

The report includes:

  • Ethical and environmental ratings for 37 brands of fizzy soft drinks
  • Best Buy recommendations for carbonated drinks
  • See separate product guides for colas and energy drinks

 

 

Part of a Sector Report on the Soft Drinks Industry.

 

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Score Ratings

Our ratings are live updated scores from our primary research database. They are based on primary and secondary research across 23 categories - 17 negative categories and 6 positive ones (Company Ethos and Product Sustainability). Find out more about our ethical ratings

 

Score table

The score table shows simple numerical ratings out of 20 for each product. The higher the score, the more ethical the company.

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Full Scorecard

The Full Scorecard shows the 'black marks' for each product, by each of the 17 negative categories. The bigger the mark, the worse the score. So for example a big black circle under 'Worker Rights' shows that the company making this product has been severely criticised for worker abuses.

Scores start at 14.  A small circle means that half a mark is deducted, a large circle means that a full mark is deducted.

Marks are added in the positive categories of Company Ethos and the five Product Sustainability columns (O,F,E,S,A).  A small circle  means that half a mark is added, a large circle means that a full mark is added.

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Best Buys

as of Sept/Oct 2013


As our ratings are constantly updated, it is possible that company ratings on the score table may have changed since this report was written.


Best buys for carbonated beverages are Luscombe, Belvoir Sparkling Pressés: organic and non organic, Gusto Organic drinks and Feel Good.

Fentiman’s is the Best Buy of the more widely available brands.

If refined sugar is a big issue for you, Gusto Organic and Feel Good drinks are sweetened with fruit extract.

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Fizzy pop

 

Despite product innovation and the soft drinks industry latching onto the Olympics, Paralympics and the Queen’s Jubilee festivities, sales of fizzy drinks fell in 2012 for the first time in many years. Whether this drop was due to tight budgets, people yielding to health advice or a bad summer is unclear, but the future of sweet fizzy drinks looks uncertain.

The companies will be fine however as ‘healthier’ rivals (flavoured waters and functional beverages like energy and sports drinks) are, as we shall see, made by the same people.

As in most industries today, ownership within the soft drinks industry is messy. Some brands are owned by one company, or two, and yet distributed or licensed by another company within certain countries. This was the case for most PepsiCo brands, which were licensed and distributed by Britvic plc within the UK. For our rankings we therefore combined the scores of PepsiCo and Britvic plc. See the Company Profiles section for more information on brand ownership.

As usual, the complicated nature of multinationals operating in a global market – without one regulatory body – raised some interesting ethical issues, especially where company policies didn’t cover their entire supply chain. For example, the UK branch of Coca-Cola, may claim GM-free products and yet have a branch in the US, whose products are highly likely to contain GMOs due to the high prevalence of GM sugar beet and corn in the US.14 Buying a can of Coca-Cola within the UK therefore indirectly supports the use of GMOs.

 

 

Still soft drinks

 

  • Britvic plc (Tango) also owns the J2O, Robinson’s, Fruit Shoot and Lipton Ice Tea brands.
  • AG Barr (Irn Bru) also owns the Simply brand.
  • The Coca-Cola Company also owns the Oasis and 5 Alive brands.

 

Comparison of sugar levels in brands of soft drink.

 

 

Reference

 

14 http://gmoinside.org/time-to-refresh-national-coalition-calls-on-coca-cola-and-pepsi-to-label-gmos-or-stop-using-them

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