This is how much sugar is packed into South Africa’s favourite fizzy drinks

 ·29 Jan 2023

Fizzy drinks are a popular beverage choice in South Africa, but health concerns regarding their sugar content and the implementation of the health promotion levy (HPL) have changed the soft drink industry in the country.

There are dozens of different types and flavours of fizzy drinks to be found in South Africa, and the country has a strong culture of socializing, with many events and gatherings taking place at which soft drinks are consumed.

According to Statistica, as of 2023, the South African soft drinks market is worth $3.26 billion (R56.3 billion). By 2027, 11% of spending and 3% of volume consumption in the soft drinks segment will be attributable to out-of-home consumption (bars and restaurants).

However, due to its popularity and the addictive nature and effects sugar has on individuals, fizzy drinks came under fire in South Africa with the implementation of the health promotion levy (HPL) in 2018.

The tax, colloquially known as the “sugar tax”, was an attempt by the South African government to address the country’s runaway diabetes epidemic and the high rates of obesity that fuel it.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest statistics, more than a quarter of South Africans are obese. In 2018, diabetes was the second-largest cause of death among South Africans after tuberculosis.

However, the implemented tax and increasingly health-conscious South African consumers have impacted the soft drink market.

Currently, the sugar tax is charged on non-alcoholic sugary beverages with more than 4g of sugar content per 100 ml – which works out to about 10% of the cost per litre of sugary drinks.

This pushed producers to cut the sugar in their soft drinks to avoid the tax and hand off the price increases to consumers by hiking retail prices. The combination of the two has cut sugar intake in the country by nearly a third.

The first scientific evaluation on the impact of the tax in South Africa, conducted in 2019, showed that consumers were already buying 28% fewer sugary drinks. This has likely changed even further in 2023, as many consumers opt for low-sugar or sugar-free options or switch to healthier alternatives.

BusinessTech looked at over 50 fizzy drinks available in South Africa to see precisely how much sugar is contained in each serving (per 100 ml).

We found that 36 fizzy drinks in the country have a sugar content above the government’s threshold of 4g per 100 ml, while 23 have adjusted in sugar content to be under the threshold or slightly above.

Surprisingly, the sugar king of fizzy drinks is Woolworths’ Passionade sparkling fruit drink, with 13.4g of sugar per 100 ml.

This is then followed by Schweppes’ Dry Lemon, White Graptiser, Woolworths’ Ginger Beer, and Red Grapetiser in fifth. Each with 12.8, 12.5, and 12.3, respectively.

Woolworths Passionade – 13.4g per 100 ml

Schweppes Dry Lemon – 12.8g per 100 ml

White Graptiser – 12.5g per 100 ml

Woolworths Ginger Beer – 12.3g per 100 ml

Red Grapetiser – 12.3g per 100 ml

On the other end of the spectrum, Coca-Cola has done a fair bit in reducing its sugar contents, as it holds the most spots with the least amount of sugar per 100ml.

Sprite has the least, with only 3.1g per 100 ml; its Fanta Passion fruit is second with 3.4; and Sparletta Iron Brewand Twist Granadilla is tied in third with 3.5g per 100 ml.

Twist Lemon, Coca-Cola’s Fanta Orange, Fanta Grape, Sparletta Sparberry, Pine Nut, and Apple Rush are tied for fifth place – with a sugar content of 3.6g per 100 ml.

The table below shows all the fizzy drinks we looked at and their respective sugar contents. The drinks are listed in descending order based on sugar content per 100 ml.

Brand Soft Drink Sugar content (g)
Woolworths Passionade 13.4
Schweppes Dry Lemon 12.8
Appletiser White Grapetiser 12.5
Woolworths Ginger Beer 12.3
Appletiser Grapetiser 12.3
Woolworths Mint Mojito 11
Monster Green Monster Energy, Pacific Punch, Assult 11
Woolworths Ruby Grapefruit 10.8
Monster Mucho loco 10.8
Woolworths Peach Soda 10.7
Redbull Original, Summer Edition, Green Edition, Red Edition, Coconut Edition 10.7
Monster The Doctor 10.6
Coca-Cola Coke 10.6
Monster Mariposa 10.3
Appletiser Appletiser 9.6
Fitch & Leedes Indian Tonic 9.3
Woolworths Cranberry Cosmo 9.2
Woolworths Lemon Soda 9.1
Schweppes Indian Tonic, Ginger Ale 8.9
Monster Pipeline Punch 8.5
Monster Khaos 7.8
Coca-Cola Stoney Ginger Beer 7.4
Fitch & Leedes Pink Tonic 7.1
Mountain Dew Citrus Blast 7.0
Pepsi Pepsi Cola 7.0
Woolworths Pina colada 6.7
Fitch & Leedes Blue Tonic 6.0
Score Original 6.0
Coca-Cola Fanta Pineapple 4.7
Woolworths Rock Shandy 4.5
Score Passion 4.4
Monster Lewis Hamilton 4.2
Score Crush 4.0
Lipton Mixed Berries Ice Tea 4.0
Bos Lemon Ice Tea, Peach Ice Tea, Berry Ice Tea, Lime and Ginger Ice Tea  4.0
Lipton Lemon Ice Tea, Peach Ice Tea  3.9
Sparletta Crème Soda 3.7
Sparletta Sparberry, Pine Nut, Apple Rush 3.6
Coca-Cola Fanta Orange, Fanta Grape 3.6
Twist Lemon 3.6
Twist Granadilla 3.5
Sparletta Iron Brew 3.5
Coca-Cola Fanta Passion fruit 3.4
Coca-Cola Sprite 3.1

Note: The listed sugar content per 100 ml in the table above was taken from the nutritional information presented on the product or the information on the brand’s website. 

Read: Another food price shocker on the cards for South Africa

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