Australian retailers oppose proposed sugar-sweetened beverage tax

The National Retail Association (NRA), representing a vast network of Australian stores is against some of the recommendations on diabetes in Australia by the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport, such as the imposition of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Dr Alan Barclay, Chair of the NRA Health and Nutrition Committee, opines that the said recommendations would harm retailers and consumers in light of the current cost-of-living crisis if imposed.

“Many of our customers and small business owners are struggling to make ends meet in this cost-of-living crisis,” said Dr. Barclay.

“Introducing a new consumer tax at this time could reinforce the perception that politicians are out of touch with the financial struggles Australians are facing due to runaway inflation.”

“We believe our leaders should prioritize lowering prices and costs instead of creating new taxes that would increase prices for everyday Australians and reduce margins for small business owners.

“A sugar tax would pressure the entire supply chain, from struggling households and small family businesses to cane growers, potentially worsening food insecurity, which already affects nearly 1 in 2 Australian households.

“There is no evidence to suggest that a modest price signal will change behavior or reduce obesity or type 2 diabetes rates. The recommendation for a sugar tax assumes that people will continue to consume sugary drinks.

“Australia already has a de facto sugar tax with the GST. Core foods are GST-free, making them 10 percent cheaper than discretionary foods and drinks like soft drinks. If a 10 percent tax doesn’t change behavior, how high should the new consumer tax be?” he said.

Dr. Barclay, an expert in diabetes prevention and management, noted that Australians are increasingly seeking nutritious options from retailers.

“The health and well-being of Australians are influenced by the retail and food service sectors, and we support the Government’s 2030 National Diabetes Strategy, which promotes better access to nutritious foods and prioritizes consumer choice,” he said.

“The NRA sees this as an opportunity to build on its current efforts on behalf of retailers and collaborate with the government to find a better path to a healthier Australia.

“Consumer expectations are constantly evolving as people become more health-conscious, and we’ve seen a growing segment value their health and embrace wellbeing in many aspects of their lives.

“Meeting these expectations can be challenging for retailers, who must be strategic in offering healthful, convenient, and tasty options.”

The National Retail Association represents over 60,000 stores across Australia and has served businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for nearly 100 years.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here