The UK authorities should introduce taxes on sugar and salt in the interests of improving the health of society, according to the National Food Strategy prepared by a group of independent experts led by the co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain, a leading non-executive member of the board of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Henry Dimbleby.
According to experts, tax revenues can be used to provide low-income families with vegetables and fruits.
“The government should introduce a tax of 3 pounds sterling per kg of sugar and a tax of 6 pounds sterling per kg of salt sold for use in processed foods or restaurants and catering establishments. This would create an incentive for manufacturers to reduce the sugar and salt content in their products by changing their recipes or reducing portion sizes,” the National Food Strategy notes.
According to its authors, the heads of large food companies admit that they cannot introduce these changes without government intervention due to competition considerations.
According to the calculations of the authors of the strategy, the introduction of taxes will reduce the average consumption of sugar by Britons by 4-10 g per person per day, and salt consumption – by 0.2-0.6 g per person per day, which would reduce the average daily amount of calories consumed by 15-38 kcal and would contribute to weight loss.
According to the strategy, the tax on sugar and salt can bring the treasury 2.9-3.4 billion pounds a year (2.3-2.8 billion pounds from sugar and 570-630 million pounds from salt). “This tax should be included in the finance bill for 2024 so that the government and business can properly implement it.
At the same time, experts recognize that unhealthy food is much cheaper per calorie than healthy food. “We want to avoid possible unintended consequences that may lead to the fact that buyers experiencing difficulties will eventually reduce their consumption of healthy food,” they stressed.
In this regard, the authors of the strategy propose some measures to provide low–income families and families with children with fresh food – for example, the expansion of free school meals and the Healthy Start program (to support the diet of preschoolers). Within three years, the average annual cost of the government for support measures is estimated at 1.1 billion pounds.
In turn, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted that he was not attracted by proposals for taxes aimed at reducing sugar and salt. As he told the British media, such measures can “hit the workers.”