FAT TAXES TO FOLLOW SODA TAXES ?
Hard on the heels of various American local initiatives to tax soft drinks, I learned at Zenith’s Global Dairy Congress in St Petersburg this month that the Danish Government is imposing a new tax on saturated fat from 1st October. I’m entirely in favour of education and social pressure to improve diets and lifestyles, but I have yet to see evidence that such taxes materially help in reducing obesity. Whereas they unquestionably can generate substantial sums of money for governments that have lost control of spending. The Danish tax is expected to raise some 200 million euros towards a 1 billion euro shortfall. In my opinion, these taxes are examples of mis-government. They fail to address the causes of either excess public spending or poor public health. They also restrict consumer choice and risk locking in more tax anomalies – on top of those that already penalise fruit juice and water, for example. The Danish tax is particularly iniquitous because it singles out one type of fat and ignores the nutritional benefits of many affected products. I do hope the food industry beefs up its lobbying so it is not milked by another cash strapped government or it will be hard cheese all round.