SYDNEY: The Australian Beverages Council, National Retail Association and the Australian Association
of Convenience Stores have rejected a call for a tax on soft drinks labelling it a misguided measure that won’t address obesity and hit those households that can least afford it the most.

“The tax is a misguided attempt to address complex problems like obesity with a simplistic, quick fix
that lacks real world evidence it has any discernible impact on weight.

Consumption of sugar from drinks in Australia has decreased significantly over a 20-year period at the same time obesity, overweight and diabetes rates have continued to rise.

Clearly soft drinks aren’t driving the nation’s expanding waistline which makes this call for a tax illogical and clearly just a revenue raiser” said Geoff Parker, CEO of the Australian Beverages Council.

“The last National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey in 2011-12 showed that soft drinks were
ranked seventh in kilojoule contribution from discretionary food and drinks for children, and eighth
for adults.

If the public health organisations were serious about addressing obesity and overweight,
we’d recommend they started at the top of the lists where discretionary kilojoules are coming
from,” said Parker.

“This type of discriminatory tax will only add pressure to household budgets at a time when most
families are struggling with soaring cost of living pressures.

The introduction of any sugar tax will have significant impacts on small and family businesses, from retailers to farmers and particularly in rural and regional areas of Australia.

Tax policy should not be made up without consultation, without any significant economic impact analysis, including whether it will achieve its goals and how it would affect businesses.

We urge the Government to invest in education, highlighting the need for healthier choices and more exercise. We don’t believe Australia can tax its way to a healthier society.

The responsibility lies with everyone, and education is the key.” said David Stout, Director of Policy at the
National Retail Association.

“Across the country drinks fridges in convenience stores and petrol stations are evolving and today
include a wide variety of low and no sugar options.

Consumers today have an extensive variety of drink options and know what’s best for them and their families” said Theo Foukkare, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores.

“While some countries have implemented taxes on drinks, there has not been a single example
where these taxes have lowered the rise of obesity, overweight or diabetes.

This is why some countries including Australia are looking at a more wholistic, contemporary approaches to obesity and overweight,” said Parker.

In 2018 the Australian Beverages Council along with the nation’s largest non-alcoholic drink
companies announced Australia’s first Sugar Reduction Pledge – a commitment to reduce sugar
across their portfolios by 25% from 2015 to 2025.

As of 31 December 2022, pledge signatories had reduced sugar across portfolios by 18%. This significant progress shows an industry that is responding with speed and scale to Australians’ desire for more choices with less sugar.

“The reduction in sugar has been achieved without price hikes to the weekly supermarket shop or
making buying a drink more expensive when people are out and about.

Since 2015 bottled water sales has outstripped sugar-sweetened carbonated soft drink sales and since 2022 no and low sugar drinks have accounted for more than half of all drink sales.

This reinforces published peer reviewed research on more than two decades of drink consumption in Australia which revealed a long-term shift in Australians’ non-alcoholic drink choices over the period, including that Australians now drink almost five times more bottled water than they did two decades ago.

Australians are making healthier choices for them and their families without another tax on their household budget,” said Parker.

“The drinks industry will continue to support consumers with more choices and less sugar.

We urge other sectors to play their part and commit to their own reductions in sugar, saturated fat and

In 2024 we need a whole-of-industry commitment to playing its part along with government
in addressing this complex problem,” said Parker. Contact: Cathy Cook, Head of Corporate Affairs, Australian Beverages Council

Phone: 0406 399 211

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