The British have become worried about their chocolate consumption. Perhaps number four in the world (I have seen some variation), their intake is high:
The problem is the sugar.
British regulators have been trying to reduce sugar consumption. The goal was to cut sugar content by 20 percent.
During 2016, makers of processed food were asked by Public Health England (PHE) for a sugar reduction. The goal for the first year was five percent, and the rest by 2020. Meanwhile, a 2018 tax successfully encouraged sugary drink producers to reduce sugar, diminish bottle size, and reformulate recipes. Others like Coca-Cola took the hit and kept Classic Coke the same.
In drinks, yogurts, and breakfast cereals, manufacturers could implement the directive and retain taste and texture. But not for chocolate.
With half of the average chocolate bar composed of sugar, less makes a huge difference. It affects how the chocolate melts, what it tastes like, and how it feels. Mondelez tried a soluble corn fiber substitute but it retained the calories (and sold poorly). Others are experimenting with allulose because it passes through the body rather than adding calories.
Nestlé’s Wowsomes, with hollow sugar crystal crystals, was scrapped:
You can see why the sugar in U.K. chocolate from the major brands has shrunk by just .4 percent per 100 grams during the past five years. So, moving forward, do regulators establish a mandate? Do they impose a tax? Do they do nothing?
Our Bottom Line: Pigovian Taxes
Used for sugary drinks, one convincing approach came from economist Arthur Pigou (1877-1959).
His solution was a tax that was win/win. When we paid the tax, the revenue could be directed toward improving our health. If the tax prevented the purchase, then it diminished obesity (or whatever the tax was targeting).
The big glitch is the group that suffers. A sales tax is regressive. Because all consumers pay the same amount, those who have less pay more (proportionally).
But, as always, decisions require tradeoffs. We just have to select the benefits that we prefer to retain when we make our choices. The British are discovering that for real chocolate, the sacrifice is a tough one.
My sources and more: A WSJ chocolate article was perfect for leading me to a host of related topics. At the French Chocolate Syndicate site, they detailed consumption. Then, the chocolate reduction initiative was here and The Guardian had a sugar law update.