A jam doughnut. Photo Sunshine Coast Daily Archives
A jam doughnut. Photo Sunshine Coast Daily Archives Sunshine Coast Daily Archives

Sugar tax proposal not on the radar for local growers

IMPOSING taxes on products containing sugar is gaining momentum around the world as governments seek solutions to growing obesity and related health issues.

Locally the prospect of a tax on sugar has barely hit the radar, with the CEO of the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative, Chris Connors, saying he was not sure that the effect of a tax would be on the local industry.

"It all depends on what happened, if the consumer stopped eating the product," he said.

"There's been lots of speculation about what the customer reaction would be and what the Coles and Woolworths people would do.

"That's where the reaction would come from initially. I would expect the Food Council to have some sort of say about it."

It's been four years since the French placed a €0.075 per litre tax on sugar sweetened drinks and 34 states in the USA have placed some sort of taxes on sugar, mainly on soft drinks.

Mexico placed a similar tax on soft drinks in 2014 and Chile, Barbados and Dominica have also come to the party.

In Britain celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is calling for a 20% tax on sugary drinks to combat childhood obesity.

Research in Australia shows nearly half of children between 2 and 16 drink a sugar-sweetened beverage every day.

It's worrying the public enough that a survey last year found 85% of us would back a sugar tax as long as the revenue raised went to combat childhood obesity.

Mr Connors said he is aware of the discussions, but said many of these finding have been disputed.

He said the situation in Mexico had changed over time and the figures had fallen away.

"The suggestion now is that the tax on sugar hasn't worked," he said.

Mr Connors said cane sugar was now catching up with corn sugar (fructose) as a preferred sweetener in drinks and packaged food.

"That's been changing over the past four or five years," he said.

The Daily Examiner has contacted the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance for a comment on this issue. Its response is due later today.

The Harwood Mill seen from the Clarence River.Photo Tim Howard / Daily Examiner
The Harwood Mill seen from the Clarence River.Photo Tim Howard / Daily Examiner Tim Howard


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