‘Alarming’ food tax trend: No unhealthy foods only unhealthy diets, says CAOBISCO

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Eu

‘Alarming’ food tax trend: No unhealthy foods only unhealthy diets, says CAOBISCO
The Association of Chocolate, Biscuit and Confectionery Industries (CAOBISCO)  has called for a halt to ‘discriminatory’ food taxes in its latest annual report and argues that there is no such thing as unhealthy foods, only unhealthy diets.

So called “fat taxes”, affecting confectionery were implemented in Denmark, Finland and Hungary in 2011, which CAOBISCO argues has damaged the EU market.

CAOBISCO's members include major confectionery player such as Mars, Ferrero, Kraft/Cadbury and Nestlé.


“Our Industry has expressed its serious concerns about this alarming trend,”​ said the organisation.

“Measures such as the so-called ‘sugar tax’ or ‘fat tax’ constitute discriminatory fiscal measures, posing serious problems of compatibility with the good functioning of the EU internal market​.”

“In fact, despite the ‘health benefits’ claimed by certain EU Governments, no scientific evidence links such benefits to the introduction of ‘food taxes’,”​ it continued.

The comments came in CAOBISCO’s 2011 annual report​ published last week, where the industry body called last year “a period of uncertainty”​ and pleaded for better raw material access and support for R&D and public private partnerships through EU and national regulation.

More taxes on the cards?

CAOBISCO is worried that nutrient profiles from article 4 of EU Regulation 1924/2006 on health claims could lead to further burdensome national legislation.

“If implemented​,[the regulation] could be freely used by member States Governments as a basis for further “food taxes” or other discriminatory measures and restrictions targeting our products,”​ said the organisation.

It argued that food taxes were not proven to be effective in reducing food consumption, including consumption of foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats.

The organisation added that such taxes distort the EU food market and hit low-income families, who spend larger shares of the their income on food

“Caobisco believes that there are no healthy or unhealthy foods but only healthy and unhealthy diets,”​ said the report.

The taxes

The Finnish tax, which came into effect at the beginning of 2011, puts a 75 euro cents levy to the kilogram on sweets and chocolate.

The Danish fat tax imposes an extra 16 Kroner per kilogramme of saturated fat on the price of a variety of food products. The Danish Government is also planning to introduce a similar ‘sugar tax’ that would impact confectionery goods. However, our sister publication FoodNavigator reports that the authorities are considering abandoned both taxes. (See HERE​) 

From September last year,  food manufacturers in Hungary have had to pay a tax of 10 forint (€0.37) for foods bearing fat, sugar and salt at levels over a certain threshold

There has also been increasing speculation that a food tax could be introduced or extended in other markets. For example, researchers at Oxford University recently called for ‘fat tax’ in the UK in a study published in the British Medical Journal in May.

Related topics Regulation & Safety

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