Picture: National President Ray Monelle (right) and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP
NFRN National President Ray Monelle spelled out the true reasons why a soft drinks tax would fail to achieve its aim of tackling obesity during a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference on Monday.
Mr Monelle, who runs a shop in Weston Super Mare, warned that consumers would not cut back on their soft drink consumption but would trade down to cheaper own label products, affecting the profitability of small convenience stores, or, even worse, they would be tempted to switch to other types of drinks containing sugar which were unaffected by the levy.
He also explained how the tax was expected to cause a reduction of just 5 calories per person per day – less than half a teaspoon of sugar per person.
Mr Monelle also warned that thousands of jobs would be lost, with the impact felt most strongly among the independent retail sector.
Earlier, other speakers at the fringe meeting, which was entitled ‘Sugar and stability: Will taxing soft drinks create more economic harm than benefit?’ and organised by the Policy Exchange and the British Soft Drinks Association, had warned that the proposed levy would be economically devastating and would not achieve its aims of reducing levels of obesity. Attendees were told that reformulation and portion size control would be more effective.
Among the panellists was Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, a member of the Treasury Select Committee, who spoke passionately against the sugar tax, querying why alcohol and other products that contain sugar had not been included and why raw sugar was not a direct target. For these reasons, he added, the levy had failed before it had even been launched.