Danone UK boss calls for higher taxes on HFSS foods

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Danone president James Mayer called for greater taxes on HFSS foods. Image: Istock, fatihhoca
Danone president James Mayer called for greater taxes on HFSS foods. Image: Istock, fatihhoca

Related tags HFSS Obesity

The UK government should consider raising taxes on foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), according to Danone UK & Ireland president James Mayer.

Mayer called for stronger measures from the Government to ensure consumers are offered healthier products and consider whether VAT could be imposed on more HFSS products.

“The UK food industry’s efforts to improve the health profile of its products have not moved fast enough,”​ he told The Guardian. “We’ve reached a point where meaningful intervention from the government is a necessary course of action.”

Setting clear parameters

“It is time for the government to move from a policy that favours caution to one that sets clear parameters for the industry and consumers as to what constitutes a healthy product.”

Regulation was the only way in which the food and drink industry as a whole would be incentivised to move towards healthier, more sustainable products, Mayers claimed.

“This is likely to involve moving faster on food and beverage data sharing and transparency, finally introducing restrictions on advertising of products​ [high in fat, sugar or salt] and looking at how VAT rates can be aligned to the health credentials of products,” ​he added.

Government action

The Government has already been criticised for dragging its heals on the obesity crisis in the UK. Plans to push back the proposed ban on junk food adverts before 9pm on TV and online was met by backlash from health bodies and industry pressure groups.

Obesity Health Alliance director Katharine Jenner accused the Government of caring more about its own short-term political health than the longer-term health of children.

The negative press surrounding HFSS foods has seen a number of firms release products that skirt around Government restrictions, or reformulate existing SKUs to make sure they don’t fall foul of new regulations.  

Last month saw Nestlé release a HFSS compliant dessert,​ while Walkers reported 30% of its sales come from healthier snacks. ​ 

Related topics Regulation & safety