Food producers call for tax cuts on healthy food

Oppo founders Charlie (L) and Harry Thullier are campaigning for lower tax on healthy food and drink

A coalition of food and drink producers has urged the government to cut the tax on low-sugar food and drink products to 5%, following new research that revealed young adults can’t afford to buy healthy food.

The DontTaxHealthy campaign, created by the founders of ice cream firm Oppo and pressure group Sugarwise, wanted VAT on healthy food and drink reduced from 20% to 5%.

New YouGov research released today (January 12) by DontTaxHealthy found 40% of 18 to 34-year-olds said they could not afford to purchase healthy food and drink, because they were more expensive than other products.  

It also found 68% of UK adults judged healthy food and drink to be more expensive than those not marked as healthy.

‘Costing £16bn per year’

Charlie and Harry Thuillier, Oppo ice cream owners, said: “It’s ridiculous that British people are being taxed for making healthy food choices at a time when obesity and type 2 diabetes are costing [the National Health Service] £16bn per year.

“The government recently announced its sugar strategy, however it didn’t provide any real, tangible solutions. Lower-sugar alternatives should not be reserved for wealthy deli and health food store shoppers but should be at a price point that is accessible for everyone.”

The campaign has received 3,000 signatures and support from more than 45 brands across the food, health and wellness industries, including: Blended Superfoods, Ohso Good Chocolate and Coldpress.

National Obesity Forum spokesman Tam Fry said: “Both the food and drink industry and the UK government have a responsibility to encourage, rather than deter, healthier choices.

‘Price acts as a barrier’

“The research released by DontTaxHealthy clearly shows that shoppers in the UK find healthy food and drink more expensive. Price acts as a barrier to healthier purchases. We need to remove this.”

Sugarwise ceo Rend Platings said a tax reduction on healthy foods would make a difference to the availability and affordability of lower sugar products.

“This, in turn, will incentivise manufacturers to continue innovating so they can reduce their sugar content and will encourage retailers to stock these healthier products on their shelves,” added Platings.

“The result: more shoppers across the UK will be able to afford to purchase healthier products.”

Meanwhile, the campaign was launched to coincide with National Obesity Week, which runs from January 9–15. 


Healthy food purchasing survey – at a glance
  • 40% of 18 to 34-year-olds said they could not afford to purchase healthy food and drink
  • 68% of UK adults judged healthy food and drink to be more expensive than those not marked as healthy
  • 62% of UK households said they were very or fairly concerned about sugar consumption

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