Industry condemns soft drink tax

The UK Government recently announced plans to introduce a ‘soft drinks industry levy’ in 2018. TV chef Jamie Oliver has called on Australia to follow suit, but the Australian Beverages Council says the plan is an exercise in futility.

“This tax is yet another step in the wrong direction to end the global obesity epidemic,” Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker said.

“It is absurd to think this will solve obesity when soft drinks contribute just 1.7 per cent of the daily intake of kilojoules for Australian adults.”

According to research published in Nutrition & Dietetics 2014, nearly one in two drinks consumed is a non-sugar variety (42 per cent volume share in 2011) compared to 30 per cent in 1997. Consumption is also on the decline, as outlined in the latest report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

“When it comes to discretionary foods, they are ranked seventh in kilojoule contribution,” Mr Parker said.

“Further research from the McKinsey Global Institute found that a 10 per cent tax on high-sugar products would be one of the least effective measures in combating obesity, ranking 14th of 17 intervention methods.

Mr Parker says there is no evidence globally that a soft drink tax has any impact on obesity rates.

“In fact, other European countries, like Denmark, have introduced and subsequently repealed a ‘fat’ tax within 18 months, due to its blatant ineffectiveness,” he said. “When implemented in Mexico, the tax only reduced dietary intake by six calories.

“Soft drinks can absolutely be enjoyed in moderation. Food and beverage consumption is a personal choice, not a revenue raiser.”