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Will sugar tax sour business?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 01:49

2016 could be the year of the sugar tax, as several large nations consider levies on sweetened food and drinks to battle obesity and fatten government coffers. As Ivor Bennett reports, it could be bad news for business.

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It's almost like stepping back in time. Surrounded by products born in Victorian Britain, that have changed very little since. SOUNDBITE (English) MARTIN PEET, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MR SIMMS OLDE SWEET SHOPPE, SAYING: "Most of the products that we sell take people down memory lane. That's why we do so well out of it." It's ten years since Martin Peet opened the first Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe. He now has branches as far a field as Singapore. But talk of a sugar tax has left him, and his suppliers, with a sour taste. some of whom have been going since the 19th century. SOUNDBITE (English) MARTIN PEET, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MR SIMMS OLDE SWEET SHOPPE, SAYING: "This is part of Britain's heritage. Those flavours, and unique styles, and unique designs of sweets, have been about well over 120 years. Why should we pick on these people and start putting taxation on what was part of our heritage?" Britain's not alone though. India and the Philippines are among the pic n' mix of countries considering a sugar tax. Chile, Barbados and Belgium among those to already introduce one. It's hoped it'll reduce obesity. But CEBR's Vicky Pryce is not convinced. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "The reason for obesity is not just sugar and other products that come into our drinks and food. But a lot of it is down to exercise. So it is quite odd in some ways to be looking at areas where actually the business impact is going to be quite significant" In Mexico though, a 10 percent levy on fizzy drinks has had an effect. With average monthly consumption falling 12 percent. Shoppers in Britain, it seems, may take more persuading. SOUNDBITE (English) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN, SAYING: "I love fizzy drinks so I'll still drink it. With the sugar tax, it's ok." SOUNDBITE (English) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN, SAYING: "No because a treat's a treat. So thing's like bread, that's considered a daily staple. There's sugar in that." Britain's expected to publish its strategy later this month. The government's latest warning is that nothing is off the table.

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Will sugar tax sour business?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 01:49