Opinion

Putting a lid on health taxes

By Steve Perez

- Last updated on GMT

Perez questioned whether taxes could really curb obesity in the UK
Perez questioned whether taxes could really curb obesity in the UK
Global Brands founder and chairman Steve Perez questions the effectiveness of taxes to combat the rise of obesity in the UK.

Food and drink manufacturers are being victimised in the UK’s fight against obesity, as Government and campaigners are hitting them with so-called health taxes.

Soft drinks manufacturers have already been hit with the sugar tax. There’s an open consultation on a ‘milkshake tax’ and now Action on Sugar and Action on Salt are calling for a levy on calories in food.

‘Misguided and a missed opportunity’

While it’s important to help improve public health and tackle obesity, using taxes as a way to do this is misguided and a missed opportunity. The taxes attempt to enforce change in peoples’ diets by either increasing retail prices or pricing manufacturers into changing recipes. This simply doesn’t work.

A post-sugar tax study by Nielsen found 62% of consumers had not changed their consumption habits after the Soft Drinks Industry Levy was introduced in April 2018. This came as little surprise to our drinks company Global Brands, which found 40–50% of people were willing to pay more for premium quality and natural flavours.

Natural versus synthetic

Consumers have more confidence in natural ingredients, including sugar, rather than synthetic sweeteners like aspartame, with concerns about how safe the latter are for public health and consumption still rife. As such, sales of our Franklin & Sons soft drinks, mixers and tonics, made using natural ingredients, go from strength to strength.

Opting for taxes to tackle obesity penalises businesses and puts companies under financial pressure, which will only jeopardise product innovation, research and development – all factors that can benefit public health.

Time and energy could be better spent supporting the public to enjoy more active lifestyles and balanced diets. After all, simply taxing food and drink firms won’t encourage people to exercise more.

Related topics: Obesity, Legal

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