The government in Portugal is to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks next year in a move expected to raise €80m for the nation’s public health service, just days after the World Health Organization urged countries to start taxing sugary drinks as a matter of course.
Under Portugal’s plans, drinks with a sugar content above 80g per litre will be slapped with a tax of €16.46 per hectolitre.
Drinks with less than 80g of sugar per litre will pay a tax of €8.22 per hectolitre.
The tax is expected to raise the price of a standard 330ml can of Coca-Cola, which contains 35g of sugar, by 5.5 cents and will apply only to soft drinks, not sugary drinks based on milk or fruit juice.
Last week, The Grocer revealed soft drinks bosses and health campaigners had both called on the UK government to extend its own controversial plans for a sugar tax to cover milk-based drinks such as children’s milkshakes.
The British Soft Drinks Association said it was “fundamentally unfair” for the government to target soft drinks, including sweetened water, while under the plans mooted by former Chancellor George Osborne, any drink with 75% of milk or more would be excluded from the levy.
This week Jennifer Rosborough, campaign manager at Action on Sugar, backed the WHO call for more widespread action across the world but called on the UK government to go further than taxation.
“Action on Sugar fully supports the WHO’s report, which reinforces the evidence to show a sugar tax will help lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. But a sugar tax alone is not the total solution,” she said.
“Whilst we are pleased PHE is also launching a sugar reformulation programme, there is still a risk that companies will choose not to comply as it will have little policing. We are currently urging the government for a stronger, more effective obesity plan to include restrictions on promotions and marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks.”