Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 12th July 2016
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is calling on the government to scrap its plans to introduce a so-called sugar tax in the UK.
According to the industry’s main lobbying organisation, food and drink companies around the country are likely to face stern operational challenges in the coming months and years even if the sugar tax is not introduced.
The government’s current plans are to introduce the extra tax on sugary drink products from April 2018 but the FDF is keen for that idea to at least be put on hold.
“The whole thing should be paused,” said Ian Wright, the FDF’s director general.
“Confidence in the consumer goods market is very fragile and the government has promised not to impose any new burden on industry.”
In addition to its concerns about the prospect of a sugar tax being introduced, food and drink sector employers in the UK are understood to be fearful of the potential impact on their businesses of a British exit from the European Union.
The issue is potentially a real problem for manufacturers within the industry because relatively large proportions of their workforces are made up of workers from parts of the EU outside the UK.
Mr Wright from FDF said recently that the industry needs reassurances from the government that its ability to recruit from different parts of Europe will be guaranteed even if the UK leaves the European Union.
“The government must develop a new migration policy that ensures manufacturers have continued access to the workers we need to address a looming skills gap – and the drive for future innovation to support the UK’s competitive advantage,” he is quoted as saying by the Guardian.
One of the FDF’s most prominent members is Coca-Cola and its representatives in the UK have also been calling for the British government to reverse its decision to introduce a sugar tax on makers of soft drinks.
“It’s bad for business at a time when we should be freeing our businesses from red tape and bureaucracy,” said Coca-Cola’s UK boss Jon Woods.
Officially referred to as the soft drinks industry levy, the sugar tax is designed as a measure that might help the UK tackle its problem with childhood obesity and obesity more general, which are estimated to cost the NHS several billions pounds on an annual basis.