SINGAPORE - Soft-drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola supports Singapore's fight against diabetes but does not think that imposing advertising restrictions on sugar-sweetened beverages or taxing them is a good solution.
A company spokesman said: "We're taking steps to help people reduce the amount of sugar they consume, such as reducing the amount of sugar in many of our products, introducing more beverages with lower or no sugar, offering smaller packages, and providing more straightforward, accessible nutrition information."
As part of an industry pledge with other giants - including F&N Foods and PepsiCo - in the beverage industry last year, Coca-Cola Singapore made a commitment to not have drinks with more than 12 per cent sugar in its range of sugar-sweetened beverages by 2020. It made a further commitment to reduce the sugar content in its drinks by 10 per cent by the same year.
The company said that since then it launched a handful of lower- and no-sugar drinks, including Coca-Cola Stevia and Authentic Tea House, a new line of ready-to-drink teas.
The spokesman said Coca-Cola No Sugar and Authentic Tea House Ayataka Green Tea have proven popular among Singaporeans, registering double-digit growth in sales this year.
Some consumers have welcomed the moves taken by the Ministry of Health to curtail the consumption of sugary drinks.
Project engineer Teo Chong Ming, 28, said: "The nutrition labels on the drinks will make people more aware of the choices they make. A ban is also good. "
Ms Goh Lijie, 28, a research administrator, said: "I think putting nutrition labels will really help. I can make informed decisions and go for the healthier drinks. A ban is a little too strict. We can think for ourselves."
She added: "The tax will discourage those who are cost-conscious. But if I really wanted to drink them, I will still go ahead without paying too much attention to the price."
Ms Loh Mei Ling, 40, a mother of three, said: "I'm a parent so I'm for a total ban. They ought to remove the vending machines in schools as well. If sugar hurts like tobacco and alcohol, do what it takes to keep it away."