Beverage manufacturers prepare for sugar tax

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Bangkok – Effective from 1st October, the Excise Department will be imposing a new rate of sugar tax first announced in 2017 to encourage the general public to consume less of the sweetener. Manufacturers have over the past two years reduced sugar content in beverages, and put a healthy beverage logo on 200 percent more products.

Excise Department deputy spokesperson Nutthakorn Utensute revealed the new measure has led changes in consumer behavior. However, the general public’s awareness of the danger of excessive sugar consumption is still below 50 percent judging from a recent survey, showing the lack of communication reaching target groups.

On the increase in the pricing of carbonated beverages containing sugar, of 2-3 baht per bottle, Nutthakorn said the change is not entirely caused by the tax, but overall higher costs. He insisted this taxation measure is for health, and is not designed for the government to earn more revenue. He said the general public currently consumes sugar on average two to three times higher than the recommended permissible amount by the World Health Organization, causing chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases.

The Excise Department currently collects sugar tax at an average of 1 baht per liter. From 1st October 2019 to 30th September 2021, the amount will increase to 3 baht per liter, and eventually to 5 baht per liter. It is expected the measure will generate 4.5 billion baht revenue annually from the 2020 fiscal year onward, which is considerably more than the current figure of 2-3 billion baht a year.