Calls for sugar tax divides consumer opinion, poll finds

A research organisation has revealed that consumer opinion on implementing a sugar tax in the UK is mixed.

Recently, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been lobbying the Government to implement a Sugar Tax on sugary foods and drinks, and in light of this, Future Thinking, the business intelligence research consultancy, has carried out a survey and analysed the results of over 1,700 respondents across the UK, asking whether they would be in favour of this tax.

The poll revealed that 35 per cent were in favour of the introduction of a sugar tax, 49 per cent of respondents were against the introduction while 16 per cent didn’t know.
The difference in attitudes between males and females was marginal, with 38 per cent of men compared to 32 per cent of women being in favour, and 51 per cent of males versus 49 per cent of females being against it.

Results indicate that older generations are more in favour of the introduction of a sugar tax (36 per cent of 55+ compared to 27 per cent of under 18s). The over 55+’s group are also more decisive in terms of forming an opinion, with just 12 per cent who didn’t know whether a tax should be introduced, contrasting with 27 per cent of under 18s.

Claudia Strauss, Managing Director at Future Thinking, commented: “Consumers are clearly unaware as to how a sugar tax would be implemented, the types of products it may affect and the impact it could have on their shopping habits. As shown in the Shopper Barometer, since 2008, attitudes towards spending have changed and consumers are now more cautious. If they feel the tax would impact directly on them, there may be a negative reaction to an increased spend, regardless of the health benefits.

“In addition, there is still a great deal of confusion when it comes to what constitutes healthy eating. As indicated in the Grocery Eye survey, this extends to the role sugar plays in people’s diets and is compounded by numerous and often contradictory health messages consumers are bombarded with. Some may also feel that a tax would not contribute to a direct health benefit and feel there is a need for more education to understand what is truly good for us.”

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