New Zealand Beverage Council Responds to Labour’s Stand on Soda Tax

Thursday 1 September 2016

New Zealand Beverage Council President Olly Munro has responded with disappointment to the announcement that the Labour Party is considering endorsing a tax on sugary drinks.

Munro says that New Zealand manufacturers already operate under a highly regulated economy and support any social or legislative initiatives that make sense. A tax in this country, he says, would not.

“Research shows that the taxation tool as a device to reduce obesity simply doesn’t work – Mexico, Denmark and a number of U.S. states are proof of this. Taxation on sweetened beverages will not provide the change in health outcomes we are seeking,” says Munro.

“The rise in obesity globally is a complex phenomenon with many causes - including declining levels of physical activity,” says Munro. “Overall calorie intake from a wide variety of sources is part of the picture – but only 1.6% of New Zealander’s total energy intake comes from the added sugar content of sweetened non-alcoholic beverages ,” he says.

“We believe that a holistic awareness about our general health and well-being is a far more effective tool for dealing with excessive sugar consumption than taxation. That’s why consumers are demanding better nutritional information, low and no sugar alternatives and why manufacturers are responding well with product reformulation, smaller pack sizes and development of low and no calorie options.

“The New Zealand beverage industry recognises it has a role to play in supporting public health objectives and welcomes steps to encourage a balanced diet and active lifestyle. We would not welcome a revenue-gathering tax that penalises a single industry but won’t change health outcomes for New Zealanders.

“The fact is that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been declining for more than ten years, and there is a strong trend towards consumption of low- or no-calorie beverages.” Munro says NZBC members are working hard to find further ways in which they can contribute towards the overall goal of improving the health of Kiwis without limiting choice or penalising those for whom the occasion beverage treat has no detrimental effect. NZCB members have committed to the Healthy Star Rating system and are looking at ways they can add their support to a pan-industry ‘Marketing to Children’ code.

“We are taking a firm stance because we believe that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would only perpetuate the myth that they are the cause of the obesity problem in this country. They are not. Nutritional literacy, moderation and exercise are key to helping fix this particular health issue. Taxation is not the solution,” he says.

[i] 2011 report published by the University of Otago and the NZ Ministry of Health (‘A Focus on Nutrition: Key Findings of the 2008/2009 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey’)

For more information, contact:

Emma Morrison
Senior Account Director
Wright Communications Limited

Mobile:  64 21 916 647

About the NZBC

The New Zealand Beverage Council (NZBC) represents the manufacturers of New Zealand's juice, carbonated drink and bottled water brands, and their suppliers. The NZBC acts:

· as a forum to discuss issues of concern and interest to the industry
· as a self-regulator ensuring product adherence to all relevant codes and statutes
· as a provider of technical assistance to members
· as an advocate for consumer education on health and nutrition issues.

Its members represent over 95 per cent of all juice and non-alcoholic beverages sold at retail level in New Zealand.

© The New Zealand Beverage Council (Inc.), 2016.

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