The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the government to focus on tackling obesity through a partnership approach with retailers and suppliers, as opposed to a levy on soft drinks.

The ACS’s submission to the government outlines concerns that smaller retailers would be disproportionately affected by increased costs, compared to larger retailers with greater trading leverage. 

The group also says there is “limited evidence that a levy on soft drinks manufacturers would reduce soft drink consumption”, while it also had the potential to create an illicit market for the category. 

The government’s proposals would see soft drinks with a sugar content of 8g per 100ml or more taxed at 24p per litre, and 5g to 8g of sugar per 100ml taxed at 18p per litre, excluding fruit juices and milk-based drinks. 

The ACS submission comes just three days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) publically backed the legislation. It claimed “a 20% increase in the retail price of sugary drinks would result in significant proportional reductions in consumption”. 

ACS chief executive James Lowman, said: “Convenience stores are already playing an important role in addressing the issue of obesity by increasing their ranges of healthy and fresh foods. We are concerned that a levy on soft drinks manufacturers will result in increased costs being passed on through the supply chain. Smaller retailers do not have the buying scale to resist these costs being passed on to them, whereas large multiple retailers ae able to push back against additional costs.

“We do not believe that a soft drinks levy will be an effective measure in reducing consumption, and encourage government to continue to work with suppliers and retailers on a partnership approach instead of this particularly blunt piece of regulation.”