A sugar tax on soft drinks was announced by the UK government last week, and will come into effect in two years’ time. But this might be extended to baked goods eventually, industry experts have warned.
While the levy will apply only to sugar-sweetened beverages and not other food products, the FDF has said that all food manufacturers need to consider the implications.
Tim Rycroft, corporate affairs director for the FDF, said: “While soft drinks producers are feeling bruised this week, I think the whole industry needs to be thinking about what this means for the government’s attitude towards all food.
“The idea that our food and drink is so harmful that it should be subjected to fiscal measures is a big public policy step.”
He added: “While we will do everything we can to ameliorate the impact, I think all of us who follow public policy know that once a principle like this is established, there is always a temptation to expand it.”
The Institute of Economic Affairs, (IEA), a free-market think tank, has similar concerns.
"thin end of the wedge"
Stephanie Lis, communications director for IEA, said: “This is a slippery slope to a much wider tax on sugar in general.”
She added: “Many will now worry that this is just the thin end of the wedge, and could lead to more government interference in the food industry whether through taxation or regulation.”
Jennifer Rosborough, a nutritionist and the Action On Sugar group’s campaign manager, would be keen to see a baked goods levy: “We would welcome discussion around including a levy on bakery products that are high in free sugars, but offer little nutritional value.”