Reaction to the Sugar Tax
Wednesday 4th April 2018
The new Soft Drinks Industry Levy – more commonly known as the sugar tax – comes into force on April 6th as part of measures to cut childhood obesity.
Manufacturers of soft drinks containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml will pay a levy of 18p a litre to the Treasury, or 24p a litre if the sugar content is over 8g per 100ml. These costs will be passed onto retailers and consumers, increasing the price of fizzy drinks.
Mark Jones is a food and drink specialist, working with food and drink manufacturers and producers on a wide range of matters including regulatory issues. He has been quoted in various media with his thoughts on the new levy.
“Introducing the sugar tax on fizzy drinks is the Government’s latest attempt to tackle the obesity crisis but whilst it has had some effect on the drinks market by encouraging manufacturers to develop lower sugar products, this levy in isolation is unlikely to have any significant effect on our health.
“Over 50% of Europe’s population is overweight or obese and almost 30% of children aged 2-15 in the UK are overweight or obese today. People are becoming obese earlier in life and staying obese in later life. In fact, the UK now spends more on obesity/diabetes treatment than it does on the judicial system, the fire service and police combined.
“Although the sugar tax is clearly a step in the right direction, there is little evidence to demonstrate it actually tackles the problem of calorie intake/calorie balance.
“Public Health England published its latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey in March, which confirmed sugar makes up 13.5% of daily calorie intake for 4 to 10 year olds, and 14.1% for teenagers (11 to 18 year olds). The survey also showed 31% of adults, 32% of 65 to 74 year olds and just 8% of teenagers meet the five a day recommendation for fruit and vegetables.
“If the UK is to really take steps to tackle obesity, we need regulation and taxes on high calorie and high sugar food products too. And with the poor health of our nation costing the public purse so much, I would expect to see that in the coming years unless there are big changes from food manufacturers.”