There has been an angry reaction from manufacturers to a new tax on high-sugar drinks in Britain.
To be punished like this, and to see our consumers punished in this one category, when in fact calorie intake and sugar intake from cakes, biscuits and confectionery is all increasing seems grossly unfair
The levy will be imposed on companies based on how much sugar they put into their beverages.
It is anticipated the tax will raise about 500 million pounds (640 million euros) annually for the British government with that money being used for school sports facilities.
It will come into force in 2018 to give the industry time to change ingredients.
Finance minister George Osborne explained the details during his budget speech in parliament: “It will be assessed on the volume of the sugar sweetened drinks they produce or import. There will be two bans: one for total sugar content above five grams per 100 millilitres; a second higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than eight grams per 100 millilitres.”
Osborne said he was responding to rising obesity levels which cost the UK health service an estimated 5.1 billion pounds (6.5 billion euros) a year.
The move got a thumbs up from campaigners, like chef Jamie Oliver.
We did it guys !!we did it !!! A sugar levy on sugary sweetened drinks …… A profound move… https://t.co/0XkydLzLCo— Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) March 16, 2016
The drinks industry complained they are being unfairly targeted as many other foods and drinks contain unhealthy levels of sugar.
Gavin Partington, Director-General of British Soft Drinks Association said: “To be punished like this, and to see our consumers punished in this one category, when in fact calorie intake and sugar intake from cakes, biscuits and confectionery is all increasing seems grossly unfair.”
Shares of British soft drinks manufacturers took a big hit. Coca-Cola fell in New York but recovered on Thursday.
The UK’s Food and Drink Federation said the move will mean less innovation and product reformulation and could cost jobs.
Some critics called it a publicity stunt to distract attention from the British government missing its deficit reduction targets.