From 2016 onwards many people will think twice before ordering a Coca Cola on a terrace in Belgium. As of 2016 all sugary drinks in Belgium will cost a lot more, following a measure from the tax shift which will be gradually introduced in the next few years. The amount of sugar tax per can, glass or bottle is still unclear. But what is clear is that according to calculations, this will yield around EUR 50 million which will go straight into the treasury .
Nothing concrete has been said about which beverages would be taxed, but in principle it is rather straight forward; all drinks which contain sugar will see a sharp price increase in 2016. Fact is that one in three adults in the world is overweight. It also seems that the demand for ‘healthy’ products is increasing and that people are keeping a closer eye on what they consume.
But is it not a case of double standards that Belgium is not planning to increase the price of the diet versions of these sugary drinks? Many studies have shown that diet products are not much better for us than sugary drinks. Both have adverse health effects.
Additionally, the Belgian Health Secretary is not planning to increase the tax for fat products. Here too, a number of pros and cons can be given. The fact is that a beginning must be made somewhere, and in Belgium the sugar tax seems to be that beginning. But, it is not really clear whether the Secretary is planning to introduce a ‘fat tax’ in the future at all.
The last question that one can ask is: "what will be the consequences for the big brands, such as Coca Cola or Smirnoff, and for the entire catering industry in Belgium?" If consumers will actually be deterred from drinking sugary drinks after the introduction of this tax, then this will have grave consequences for the whole soft drinks industry, the catering industry but also for example for the supermarkets and the manufacturers who produce these sugary products.
Is this just a good beginning that should be followed by as many other countries as possible or should this maybe be addressed in a different manner?