The concerns surrounding sugar tax will rage on in South Africa but the fight has been won, on Monday Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance adopted the Health Promotion Levy (HPL).
The levy will help reduce non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) caused by a high intake of sugar. The increasing rate of obesity from the overconsumption of sugar cannot be ignored.
Chairperson of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, revealed in the National Assembly on Tuesday, that he’d received threats from industry-linked people to drop the tax on sugary drinks.
“I have been contacted three times by people linked to industry,” revealed Carrim. “They have even threatened the chair, saying that they will take this to the ANC NEC. But I say that this bill was brought to the Cabinet and I want to congratulate Cabinet for having the bravery and the courage in taking up this Bill.”
Carrim said that the Bill was the result of extensive negotiations, with Treasury dropping its initial plan for a 20% tax to 11%, which is a significant reduction.
Earlier this week, in move to support the Bill being passed, Coca-Cola reduced its 500ml ‘buddy’ to 440ml, and the standard 330ml cans will soon be just 300ml. They say they want their consumers to think about their sugar consumption, as well as leading a healthy lifestyle.
Spokesperson at Peninsula Beverages, Priscilla Urquhart, says Coca-Cola has taken it upon themselves to raise awareness and educate people on sugar consumption, with portion control.
Many consumers are upset about having to pay the same price for less product. Priscilla says there’s reasoning behind why the price hasn’t gone down along with the amount of Coke in your can.
“The price has remained the same for several reasons – the input cost that goes into innovating and the new packaging as well as not introducing price increase,” she said.
“The primary goal here is to get consumers [to] think about their own sugar consumption and a healthy active lifestyle,” Priscilla went on to say.
Executive Director at Beverage Association SA, Mapule Ncanywa, says the association is proud of their members who have taken the initiative to reduce sugar content within their brands. He says the process began in 2014, and they have been reporting their progress to the Department of Health.
“What goes into reformulating a product is not as simple as one morning waking up and deciding, its a process… We started in 2014 and decided to do this in batches.”
Coca-Cola’s ‘shrinkflation’ makes sense for them but many people aren’t feeling too sweet about it.