Coalition formed to block UK sugar tax

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

A coalition of businesses leaders, led by the BSDA, is campaigning to block the UK sugar tax on soft drinks
A coalition of businesses leaders, led by the BSDA, is campaigning to block the UK sugar tax on soft drinks

Related tags: Soft drinks, United kingdom, Obesity

Business leaders in the food and drink industry have formed a coalition to oppose the UK soft drinks tax, following a report that claimed the tax would place 4,000 jobs at risk and wipe £132M from the economy.

The campaign, called Face the Facts, Can the Tax, is backed by members from manufacturing, retail and wholesale and called on the government to “can” ​former Chancellor George Osborne’s proposed soft drinks tax.

The tax will not solve obesity, claimed the coalition and would result in job losses and higher prices.

Instead, it called for the government to focus on “meaningful measures to tackle obesity and supporting UK businesses and consumers”.

Businesses that are part of the coalition all agreed that obesity levels were too high, but argued a tax was not the answer in curbing them.

‘Burdening businesses’

British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) director general Gavin Partington said: “Burdening businesses and consumers with an ineffective tax is not the answer.   

“We know from the evidence around the world where they’ve tried a tax that it will not make a difference to obesity.

“What it will do … is damage thousands of businesses across the entire soft drinks supply chain – from farmers, to manufacturers, to convenience stores and the pub and restaurant trade.”

Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) ceo James Bielby suggested the tax would increase the risk of “unscrupulous importers” ​bringing “tax-avoided products”​ into the supply chain.

‘Hugely disadvantage British manufacturers’

“This would hugely disadvantage British manufacturers and wholesalers,” ​said Bielby.

“It is just one of the many unintended consequences of using such a blunt instrument to change consumer habits.”

In response, a HM treasury (HMT) spokesman said the levy’s purpose was to get producers to use healthier ingredients to reduce the levels of added sugar in products our children consume

“If they reformulate, they won’t have to pay,” ​said HMT.

“Companies have two years before the levy comes into force to adapt, and it’s designed to encourage them to reformulate their products so there is less added sugar in soft drinks.

“British children are currently consuming three times the recommended amount of sugar and health experts agree there is a specific problem with sugar-laden soft drinks.”

Meanwhile, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers ceo Kate Nicholls said the tax would not be the “silver bullet” ​that would tackle the UK’s obesity problems.  

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