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.”

Vegan group calls for greater support for crop farmers

The Vegan Society believes that action on rural livelihoods and climate change emissions from farming is urgently needed.

The organisation has spoken out following the recent appointment of Kerry McCarthy MP, a vegan for over 20 years, as the new Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Vegan Society says that recognising the strengths and diversity of the UK’s plant-based agriculture is fundamental to tackling these issues.

“We have the utmost confidence in Kerry McCarthy in her new role as the shadow Defra Minister. We will also seek to work more closely with the Government Defra Minister, Liz Truss, and hope that cross-party agreements can be reached on various issues, farmers’ livelihoods in particular,” commented Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society.

“There is common ground; we all want environmental and food sustainability, and a long-term future for farmers. McCarthy’s track record of compassion in the Commons is conducive for far greater discussion on these very issues. We support farmers and growers, and now is the time to act. Government subsidies for farmers wishing to move towards sustainable crop farming is the best next step.”

Independents come together for trade summit

A new trade event for natural and organic retailers has proved a resounding success.

The inaugural Natural Health Trade Summit took place in Manchester recently, and attracted more than 350 trade visitors.

The event was organised by Organic & Natural Business magazine’s publisher, Target Publishing, in association with the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS). As part of its support, the NAHS was also given a funding boost with a portion of proceeds from the show.

The feedback speaks for itself; 99 per cent of visitors rated the event as very valuable and 97 per cent rated the venue as very good.

The main exhibition attracted more than 60 companies, from the likes of Tree of Life and Optima, which were also show partners, Booja-Booja, Kinetic, Clearspring, Pravera, Rainforest Foods, The Health Store and Yumearth Organic Sweets.  Visitors to the show included The Better Food Company, On The Eighth Day, Wild Oats, Dimensions Health Store and Wild Thyme Wholefoods.

In addition, seven packed free round table discussions were held with industry experts, offering the opportunity to talk to other retailers and share ideas.

And there was plenty of networking, with a free welcome drinks reception, sponsored by The Health Store.

David Cann, Managing Director at Target Publishing, said: “We were delighted to unite the independent wholefood trade under one roof to network, share ideas and do business. We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from visitors and our exhibitors, and look forward to the summit becoming an essential date in the industry’s diary for years to come.”

Find out about next year’s event at

Organic boss talks of life through music

The Chief Executive at the Soil Association has opened up about how music inspires her with an appearance on Dessert Island Discs.

The organic farmer (pictured), joined Kirsty Young on the BBC Radio 4 show, where she was asked to choose her essential tracks that have made an impression on her through her life.

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Restructure of popcorn business announced

A healthy popcorn brand has announced plans to de-merge and restructure its operations.

Metcalfe’s Food Company has become known for developing snacks under its two brands, itsu [grocery] and Metcalfe’s skinny). In light of this, Metcalfe’s Food Company is to split to form itsu [grocery] Ltd and Metcalfe’s skinny Ltd. Described by the company as an exciting move, which represents an incredibly important step forward, the move has been taken to better support the fast growth of both brands by creating a dedicated structure and resource.

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