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Fitch Solutions sees Singapore sugar rules having little impact on consumer spending on beverages

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Singapore's upcoming sugar regulations will have little impact on top line consumer spending on beverages, said Fitch Solutions Macro Research.

SINGAPORE'S upcoming sugar regulations will have little impact on top line consumer spending on beverages, said Fitch Solutions Macro Research.

A lot has already been planned at an industry level, and companies have begun to adjust their products for the new regulations, said Fitch Solutions.

In 2017, major sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) companies in the Singapore market pledged to reduce sugar content in their drinks by 12 per cent by 2020.

One company is Coca Cola, which launched its Stevia range within Singapore in 2018. This reduced sugar content within its products by 35 per cent.

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"The moves by the industry to get ahead of regulation and reformulate their products, coupled with the fact that the SSB regulation is focused on informing consumers (or restricting advertising) as opposed to taxation, means that we are not expecting any major shifts within our soft drinks forecasts," said Fitch Solutions.

Any purchasing habit shifts would see consumers seeking products with lower sugar content as opposed to decreasing their consumption, which is traditionally the outcome following SSB taxes, Fitch Solutions added.

Over the medium term from 2019 to 2023, Fitch Solutions projects consumer spending on carbonated beverages - a proxy for SSBs - to grow by an average 1.5 per cent on a per capita basis.

Consumer spend levels per capita on carbonated drinks will average S$37 per annum in 2023.

Singapore had in October announced labelling and advertising regulations, including a total ban on advertisements of packaged drinks with very high sugar content, with more details to come in 2020.