What’s the sugar tax and why should I care?

You might have heard people talking about the sugar tax. But what is it?
Well, campaigners see it a as a significant step in the fight against child obesity. This is something that the government has been talking about for some time, but it has still come as a bit of a surprise to people. This new tax will affect some of our refectory prices and the service we offer and so we decided to speak with Peter Bacchetti, Catering Services Manager at the College to find out more:

Peter, can you tell us what the ‘Sugar tax’ is?
The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) was nicknamed the “sugar tax” by the media and online when it was announced at the 2016 Budget. But this isn’t a tax on all sugar; the levy directly targets the producers and importers of sugary soft drinks to encourage them to remove added sugar, promote diet drinks, and reduce portion sizes for high sugar drinks.

Will the Levy increase how much a soft drink costs me?
Even though this is not a tax on consumers, companies don’t have to pass the charge on to their customers. If companies take the right steps to make their drinks healthier they will pay less tax, or even nothing at all. That said, not all companies have reformulated all of their lines in order to fall under the taxable threshold.

Why soft drinks in particular?
There are nine teaspoons of sugar in a 330ml can of cola, instantly taking children above their recommended maximum for the day. A five-year-old should have no more than 19g of sugar in a day, but a typical can of Cola can have 35g. Public health experts from the Chief Medical Officer to the British Heart Foundation agree that sugar-sweetened soft drinks are a major source of sugar for children and teenagers, and that sugar intake drives obesity.

Many soft drinks contain no intrinsic nutritional value, and could be easily reformulated to contain less sugar. Some companies including Irn-bru have already done this.

Is obesity really a major problem?
Unfortunately, yes. The UK has one of the highest obesity rates among developed countries, and it’s getting worse. By 2050, over 35% of boys and 20% of girls aged 6-10 are expected to be obese. The estimated obesity-related costs to the NHS is over £6 billion.

What does this mean to me?
The Catering department have been working closely with our suppliers to provide options for our consumers on campus.

We have followed the advice of manufacturers and resulting actions have been outlined below –
· We will be switching from full sugar Coca-Cola from our dispensed units to Coke Zero
· We will be providing a wider range of Sugar-free flavoured waters
· We will continuously work to make sure that the majority of our Soft drink offerings fall under the taxable threshold wherever possible, keeping your costs, down
· We will add increases only where absolutely necessary eg the taxable full sugar variety Red Coca Cola. So a 500ml bottle will increase by 15p, and 10p on a 330ml can.

Please note – any increases on full sugar drinks are driven only by supplier taxable increases, and cover only this tax. While the taxes come in to force as of 6th April, the Catering department will defer any increases until 16th April.

Thanks for the information Peter.

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