The Sugar Tax - What You Need To Know

sugar tax

Sugary soft drinks are being targeted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the global rate of obesity, especially in children, is hitting a critical level. More and more countries are considering fiscal action to dissuade consumers from buying beverages that are laden with sugar and encourage people to reduce the amount of sugar they, and their families, are consuming daily.

Mexico, one of the largest consumers of high sugar beverages, has been leading the way in the worldwide call to reduce sugar consumption. In early 2014 they introduced a tax of 10% on the sale of sugary drinks. Producers said this would do little to impact sales but by December 2014 the amount being purchased had already dropped by 12%. Researchers predict over a 10 year period the 10% tax could prevent 189,300 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 20,400 strokes and heart attacks and 18,900 deaths of adults aged 35 – 94.

France has also been a long-time supporter of the sugar tax. Since 2012, a tax of 7.45 euros per hectolitre (100 litres) has been placed on all sugar sweetened and non-sugar sweetened beverages.

In the US, the soda tax has been gaining traction at local levels. Berkley, California was the first city to make a move, introducing a 1 cent tax on every ounce of soda in January 2015. Other cities have followed suit with Philadelphia introducing a tax of 1.5 cent per ounce in January 2017, Boulder in Colarado has a tax of 2 cents on every ounce of beverage with 5 grams of added sugar and other cities such as Seattle and San Francisco have plans to introduce taxes over the coming year ahead.

What about the UK?

At the 2016 UK budget announcement, the new levy on soft drinks was proposed for 2018. The levy will apply to producers and importers of these types of sugary beverages with exemptions likely to be made for the smallest producers and any drink where there is no added sugar.

The tax will be applied with two different rates in the UK. The lower rate which will apply to added sugar drinks with a total sugar content of five grams or more per 100 millilitres will be set at 18 pence per litre. The higher tier which applies to added sugar drinks with a sugar content of eight grams or more per 100 millilitres will be set at 24 pence per litre. In addition to this the tax will also apply to alcoholic drinks with an alcohol by volume of up to 1.2%. All taxes will be introduced into the UK April 2018.

This levy will contribute to the government’s plans to reduce childhood obesity by encouraging producers to reformulate their products to reduce the sugar content, reduce portion sizes and encourage consumers to think about healthier choices for themselves and their families.

If producers and importers adopt this new levy when formulating and packaging their products they could pay less tax or even escape the charges altogether.

Ireland are looking to follow suit in 2018 with a similar two tier taxing system, charging producers and importers 20 cents per litre for beverages with over 5% sugar and 30 cents per litre for beverages with over 8% sugar.

How can we help?

Sugar reduction is one of our core strengths as a business and our expert team provide a number of innovative solutions for this ever-growing global market. We work with you and your team to deliver solutions that are a perfect fit, without compromising on taste. To find out more about our fascinating work in sugar reduction visit our Health & Wellness page or if you’re looking to reduce sugar content in your product get in touch with us at