Action on Sugar calls for confectionery tax

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Action on Sugar called for a tax on sweet and chocolate confectionery
Action on Sugar called for a tax on sweet and chocolate confectionery
Pressure groups Action on Sugar (AOS) and Action on Salt have called on the Prime Minister to introduce an energy density levy on confectionery, as part of its seven-part plan to help prevent obesity and related diseases.

It proposed setting a levy to a minimum of 20% on all sweet and chocolate confectionery with an energy density greater than 275kcal per 100g, in a bid to provide manufacturers an opportunity to reformulate not just on sugar content, but on overall energy density of products – the removal of both fat and sugar.

The proposal came hot on the heels of Public Heath England’s report on the industry’s progress in cutting sugar in it products, which found the sector had missed its 5% sugar reduction target.

Taxes on confectionery

According to AOS, evidence suggested taxes on confectionery could have a greater impact than the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. It cited Mexico’s 8% tax on non-essential food items with energy density greater than 275kcal per 100g, which had been shown to reduce purchases of these products.

It also called for the creation of an independent agency to enforce reformulation and tackle marketing and promotion of products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS).

Also included in AOS’ seven-point plan was the introduction of mandatory, uniform colour-coded labelling on the front of pack for all food and drink products.

Ban on HFSS advertising

It also called for a ban on HFSS products being promoted and advertised, including the removal of in-store price promotion and sweets at checkouts. A full list of actions AOS wished to see implemented can be found in the box below.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, said: “Theresa May launched her Prime Minister campaign in 2016 by saying that she wanted to tackle health inequalities – obesity being a major factor in this.

“While some progress has been made, a much more robust and hard-hitting strategy is required to tackle the greatest threat to the health of our children. May could lead the world in tackling obesity and type 2 diabetes and must put the nation’s health first.”

Action of Sugar’s seven-point plan

  • 1.       Reduce calorie intake by incremental reformulation:
    • To achieve a 50% reduction in sugar content across all products
    • To achieve a 20% reduction in energy density in unhealthy food and drink products (focused on saturated fat)
  • 2.       Reduce salt intake by incremental reformulation to below 6g/day (adults), and less for children.
  • 3.       Escalate the Soft Drinks Industry Levy and introduce a confectionery levy
    • Sugar-sweetened drinks – the current threshold of 5g and 8g per 100ml should be slowly reduced and the amount of levy paid slowly escalated.
    • Confectionery – a similar levy should be introduced for confectionery, with the opportunity to reformulate based not on sugar content, but on energy density.
  • 4.       Ensure only healthy products (not high in fat, salt and sugar) are marketed, promoted and advertised.
  • 5.       Ensure all products sold and provided in the public sector – e.g. schools, hospitals – meet strict nutritional standards.
  • 6.       Make uniform colour-coded labelling on front of pack mandatory on all products sold in retail and out-of-home, with stricter criteria for sugar.
  • 7.       Ensure the food and drink industry increases fruit and vegetable content of products through reformulation, promotion and marketing.

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