Industry groups and businesses launch campaign against sugar levy

16 August 2016 by
Industry groups and businesses launch campaign against sugar levy

A number of organisations including those representing pubs and bars, soft drink manufacturers, retailers and vending machine operators have launched a campaign against the planned sugar levy.

The policy is due to come into force in April 2018 but opponents hope it will be reconsidered by prime minster Theresa May and new chancellor Philip Hammond.

Launched today (16 August), the 'Face the Facts, Can the Tax' campaign, is supported by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the Automatic Vending Association, the British Beer & Pub Association, the British Soft Drinks Association, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, and the Food & Drink Federation, among others.

It follows an Oxford Economics report last week on the economic impact of the soft drinks levy.

It estimated that more than 4,000 jobs across the UK could be lost as a result of the soft drinks tax, with the impact being felt across the wider economy, predominantly within the hospitality industry and among smaller retailers.

The report also suggested that the tax would reduce sales of soft drinks by just 1.6% and would have a minimal effect on the obesity crisis.

Gavin Partingdon, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, which is funding the campaign said: "Post-Brexit, securing investment and jobs is more important than ever. This research shows the soft drinks tax is not only ineffective in fighting obesity but will come at a significant price for the economy, costing thousands of jobs.

"As an industry we recognise that obesity must be tackled which is why we have invested heavily in reformulating drinks. Since 2012 this has led to a 16% reduction in sugar intake from soft drinks. The tax is therefore unnecessary and harmful to our economy."

Businesses backing the campaign have agreed that obesity levels are too high but have argued that the proposed sugar tax is not the answer.

The Children's Food Trust has responded to the campaign by reiterating its support for the sugar levy as a step towards getting children eating and drinking better.

Linda Cregan, CEO of the charity said: "Sugary soft drinks are a big source of sugar in children's diet, particularly as they get older, and don't give children any nutritional value. So we welcome every step to encourage us all to buy sugary soft drinks less often, and to keep manufacturers focused on reformulation of their products.

"But we have to remember that this tax isn't a silver bullet - it's just one tool to help in the fight to get children eating and drinking more healthily, and we look forward to the full set of 'game-changing' actions government has promised to deliver in the forthcoming childhood obesity strategy."

Budget 2016: Chancellor cuts business rates and commercial stamp duty >>

Jamie Oliver tells MPs to be ‘big and bold' on sugar tax >>

World Health Organisation supports a tax on sugar >>

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