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Campaign Against the Sugar Tax

The Fed has joined forces with other industry groups to form the “Face the Facts, Can the Tax” coalition.

The ‘Face the Facts, Can the Tax’ campaign is supported by a coalition of British businesses who have come together to highlight the damaging economic consequences of the tax and urge the Government to rethink the policy and focus instead on proven solutions that will address obesity.

The group includes soft drinks manufacturers, wholesalers, small shops, newsagents, restaurants, bars, and pubs. They are warning the tax will do nothing to tackle obesity, and risks causing thousands of job losses and higher prices for those who can least afford it.

Giant canthetax poster submitted to the Chancellor

“Education not legislation on sugar ” says NFRN

13 October 2016

The NFRN has reiterated its calls for education rather than regulation in its response to the government’s consultation on the proposed sugar tax.

In its submission, the NFRN has warned that instead of reducing instances of obesity, a tax on sugary soft drinks will only hit hard working independent retailers who are already reeling from higher costs arising from the newly launched National Living Wage, business rates and from complying with the tobacco display ban.

Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “It has been calculated that the cost on individual independent retailers will be in the region of £8,100 each per year in lost sales as manufacturers pass on their increased costs.  This is a cost that independent retailers cannot absorb and will have to pass onto consumers….hitting the poorest hardest.”

Mr Baxter also warned that sales and revenue losses could ultimately lead to job losses and even shop closures.

The NFRN reminded the government that in Mexico a soft drinks tax only reduced the daily sugar intake by six calories per person.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the UK experience will be any different,” Mr Baxter warned.

Instead, the NFRN said that consumers needed to be better educated into the effects of sugar and the alternatives available.

“Education must cover all aspects of the sugary food and drinks sector, not just soft drinks,” Mr Baxter concluded.


Twitter is a great way to get your voice heard, so make sure you follow the campaign on the NFRN Twitter page and by using the hashtag #canthetax. New to Twitter? Check out our Twitter Beginner’s Guide for all the basics.

Please help us get the government to face the facts and rethink its approach to tackling obesity.

Campaign Updates

To view the latest NFRN articles on the sugar tax, visit

NFRN’s Day of Action against the sugar tax
Customers holding up canthetax postcards

27 September 2016

Nearly 2,000 independent retailers got behind the NFRN’s call for the government to rethink its plans for a sugar tax on sugary drinks.

Since the NFRN’s Day of Action against the proposed sugar tax on Friday September 16, almost 1,500 store owners have filled out a postcard to Chancellor Philip Hammond registering their objection to the proposal and saying no to the tax.

A further 459 have written to their MP, warning that the move will devastate their businesses while failing to tackle the UK’s obesity problems.

Posters stating that a potential 58p price increase on a two litre bottle of a sugary soft drink will cause shop closures and job losses have also gone up in thousands of stores nationwide.

NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “While we understand that the government has got to get to grips with rising obesity levels, we believe the proposal for a sugar tax is flawed. That’s why thousands of independent retailers are joining our call for Chancellor Philip Hammond to reconsider and come up with a solution that will not threaten the survival of local independent shops.”

Why is this campaign so important?
Face the Facts, Can the Tax banner

The British corner shop is currently facing attacks from all sides. Property prices are rising and the cost of produce is also going up.

Business rates have yet to be reformed, and consumers are turning to local micro supermarket brands instead of their corner shop.

And now, the Soft Drinks Tax is set to negatively hit local shops and pubs across the nation.

We recognise that tackling obesity is of critical importance, and support the Government’s moves to do so.

But the Soft Drinks Tax has been proven to be ineffective across the globe, based on weak evidence, and is forecasted to have a large and negative impact on the economy and local jobs.

Back in March, we wrote to the then-Chancellor, asking him not to ignore the needs of small and independent retailers when delivering his budget.

And while that budget had some wins for independent retailers – the impact of the Soft Drinks Tax (a last minute sweetener to make the medicine go down) was largely overlooked and underestimated by Osborne.

New figures released this month show that the tax will lead to over 4,000 job losses, and a £132m decline in UK GDP.

The soft drinks sector is the fifth biggest contributor to convenience store sales. It stocks businesses from convenience stores to hotels, in towns from Devon to Aberdeenshire.

It’s because of this that we’ve decided to join the Face The Facts, Can The Tax Coalition campaign – to raise awareness of the need for an evidence based approach to tackling obesity.

As the voice of the independent retailers representing over 15,000 independent news and convenience retailers throughout the UK and Ireland, we are calling for a solution that will effectively tackle obesity without having a largely detrimental impact on our local independent businesses.

The tax could cost individual retailers £8,100 per year in sales. This is no small amount for small businesses.

We agree wholeheartedly that the Government must take immediate action to tackle obesity. It’s a growing problem that is effecting the health of millions across the country, and costing our NHS a hefty ticket too.

But this tax won’t work, and will only hurt local businesses, suppliers and consumers.

Corner shops are quite literally the cornerstone of our local economies. As she’s taken up her mantle as Prime Minister, Theresa May has talked about building a society that works for everybody.

It’s time for her to take action on that claim, face the facts – and can this harmful and ineffective tax.

Find out more about the campaign here:

Call to action: To bring the tax to life for your consumers you could create a counter display which shows the difference in price of a 1.75ml bottle of Classic Coca-Cola, before and after the tax. (Including VAT the price increase will be around 50p after the new tax on a 1.75ml bottle and 58p on a 2 litre bottle).

10 facts about the tax
  1. 340,000 jobs are supported by the soft drinks industry – an industry which contributes £11 billion to the UK economy.
  2. The soft drinks tax will lead to over 4,000 jobs lost and a hit to our economy of £132million, according to an independent report by Oxford Economics.
  3. All for a reduction in calorie intake of only five calories per person per day – the equivalent of a bite of an apple.
  4. A report by The Taxpayers’ Alliance also found the tax would lead to the Treasury receiving £17,399,370 less in employment taxes.
  5. Osborne’s rationale for the soft drinks tax was to encourage the industry to do more to reduce sugar intake. Yet, since 2012, action taken by industry has helped to reduce calorie intake from soft drinks by 16%, and in 2015 we agreed a calorie reduction goal of 20% by 2020.
  6. When the soft drinks tax was introduced in Mexico, it reduced the average calorie intake by a mere 6 calories per person, per day. Perhaps not surprisingly, in a country where the average daily calorie intake is over 3,000, this has had no impact on levels of obesity.
  7. Both Public Health England and McKinsey say that portion size and reformulation are far more effective ways of reducing calorie intake than taxation. These are steps the industry is already taking, reducing sugar intake by over 16% since 2012.
  8. The government has based the soft drinks tax on 2012 data which does not take into account significant action taken by soft drinks companies to cut calories over the last four years. Updated data due out this year has yet to be published by the government.
  9. The Office for Budget Responsibility – set up by Osborne in 2010 to provide independent analysis of the government’s spending decisions – has highlighted the tax will be ‘passed entirely on to the price paid by consumers.’ They also forecast the tax to cost the taxpayer £1 billion in its first year.
  10. Current estimates of the tax suggest it would add 58p to a two litre bottle of soft drink – effectively a 50% tax.
Sugar Tax postcard
Sugar Tax postcard
How can I find out more?

Find out more about the ‘Face the Facts, Can the Tax’ campaign here: