Sugar tax popular with consumers, finds study

Nearly half (48%) of consumers agree with the sugar tax and a large proportion of them want more products, such as cakes and biscuits, to be added to it, according to market research firm Future Thinking.

In its Grocery Eye study, which surveyed more than 2,000 respondents, the firm found that 40% of consumers wanted chocolate and sweets to be added to the sugar tax, which was introduced by then Chancellor George Osborne in his 2016 Budget with a focus solely on soft drinks. Cakes ranked second at 34% and biscuits ranked fourth at 27%, following sweetened breakfast cereals in third place. Other products cited included ice cream, ready-meals, jams and marmalades, tomato ketchup, fruit juice and yoghurts.

Claudia Strauss, UK managing director at Future Thinking, said: “The overwhelming support for the sugar tax shows that the majority of consumers are worried about the amount of sugar in their food and the wider obesity crisis.

“We have always found that consumers look to government and industry to drive change, preferring to pass the responsibility on, so we are not hugely surprised by this. Food and drink manufacturers will garner significant emotional benefits if they actively and publicly promote their efforts to reduce sugar levels, with or without taxation.”

The news comes as food-and-drink industry business leaders have formed a coalition - named Face the Facts, Can the Tax - to oppose the UK soft drinks tax, after a report claimed it would wipe £132m from the UK economy and put 4,000 jobs at risk. The campaign is backed by manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers, which called on the government for “meaningful measures to tackle obesity and support UK businesses and consumers”.

Last month the Tax Payers Alliance advocated that the sugar tax be scrapped, saying it would result in fewer jobs and damage the UK economy.

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