There is currently no long term evidence to suggest that food taxes can reduce obesity or create sustained behaviour change. Obesity is a complex multifactorial issue, with no silver bullet solution.

In April 2018, a UK soft drinks industry levy (SDIL) was introduced for producers and importers of sugar sweetened soft drinks.  Between spring 2012 and spring 2016, prior to the announcement of the levy, manufacturers had already cut sugar from their products by 15.6% (Kantar Worldpanel data).

Any review of the evidence, should account for this long term downward trend. It should also consider that the original policy aim for the SDIL was to reduce childhood obesity. Looking at current data levels, there has been an overall reduction in sugar intakes from drinks, but there has been no reduction in childhood obesity.

The FDF believes that reformulation policies should remain voluntary, any taxes on foods will not help companies to find solutions to complex technical issues, but may divert investment away from innovation.

Updates

Revenue from Soft Drinks Levy 2020 - 2021

HMRC has published new statistics on receipts, liabilities and volume for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Provisional year to date receipts so far for April to September 2021 are £152 million, higher than that collected in the same period in 2020 (£143 million).

Update on food and drink taxes

Currently, milk based drinks are exempt from the soft drinks levy. However, in 2021, HM Treasury will review progress on the sugar reduction ambition in this category and decide whether this exemption should continue.

In 2018, the soft drinks levy came into force. The levy is aimed at producers and importers of soft drinks, with the rates differencing depending in the amount of total sugars in the drinks. The rates are; 5g to >8g sugars/100ml = 18p per litre and 8g or over sugars/100ml = 24p per litre.

In October 2020, HMRC published statistics on receipts, liabilities and volume for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Provisional receipts for April to September 2020 were £143 million, lower than that collected during the same period in 2019 (£163 million).

Future milestones

Early 2022

OHID to publish final monitoring report for the voluntary sugar reduction programme.

 

2022

Government to review whether milk based drinks should be exempt from levy.

30 September 2022

HMRC to publish statistics on receipts from soft drinks industry levy (covering Sept 2020 to Aug 2021)

News

National Food Strategy Part II Report - Update

FDF’s Chief Scientific Officer, Kate Halliwell responds to the publication of the second part of the National Food Strategy report.

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