We’ve all heard about the Sugar Tax – how is this any different?

This is not the sugar tax. The sugar tax successfully highlighted the impending obesity crisis we face in the UK.

This campaign however believes that we should encourage consumption of products which are lower in sugar by reducing VAT to 5%.

Healthy eating is often seen as something that only those with high disposable incomes can afford to do. This is not right.

We want to encourage rather than deter. Yes, consumers choose products for their taste and nutritional content but the blunt reality is that price for many is the main factor when making a choice. Let’s remove this barrier.


Why should we care?

An unbelievable 58% of women and 68% of men are now overweight or obese in the UK. This figure is increasing, not decreasing.

Since the government decided on what food items to apply VAT to in the 1970s (which was based on what they considered to be healthy back then) obesity levels have more than tripled.

How can a Jaffa Cake be 52% sugar and exempt from VAT whilst healthy products which are reduced, low or free from sugar carry VAT. Things need to change!


How did the idea for #DontTaxHealthy come about?

We know it's possible to make indulgent sweet treats without a high sugar content. It’s not easy, it took Oppo 25 months to develop their ice cream. Fast forward to 2016 and they have a product which has won a Great Taste Award, but which is also Sugarwise-certified reduced sugar. Healthy indulgence is possible.

The problem is: it's expensive to make healthy food. Sugar is insanely cheap at just 50p per kg. Whereas healthier sugar alternatives such as the ingredients Oppo use are as high as £11 per kg - more than 20x more expensive. We need to level the playing field and make it cheaper to enjoy healthier products.

VAT explained

Why are you trying to change VAT specifically?

We believe it should be cheaper to be healthy. Reducing VAT on lower sugar products would give more people access to healthy foods whilst also encouraging producers to innovate so they can offer shoppers reduced sugar alternatives.

Sure, fresh fruit and veg is zero VAT rated, but fruit will never be a substitute for the craving you have for something a little more indulgent. There are healthy, lower sugar versions of your favourite sweet treats being launched all the time. So you really can have your cake and eat it. 

It's now time for the Government to get on board and put their money where their mouth is in supporting the creation of a healthier nation.


Why are you not asking for zero VAT?

Due to EU standardisation, the law won’t allow any new zero-rate products so we currently only have the power to introduce a reduced rate for VAT at 5%.

The SUGAR debate

Why don’t we just invest more in educating parents and children?

This campaign agrees with many campaigners in the medical world that better food education is essential to stop people buying and consuming unhealthy products in large amounts, such as products with high sugar content.

So yes food education is key, but this is part of a larger strategy.

There are at least two generations of parents that have not been taught to cook. Children as young as eight are now taught basic cooking skills and how to make a balanced meal however we believe the removal of VAT will help nudge people in the right direction, too. You need both.

Removing VAT from healthier products will also encourage manufacturers to innovate. There's no point educating someone to have A instead of B if A is not available. Making healthy products easily available is essential.


What is a reduced sugar product?

A ‘reduced sugar’ food must contain at least 30% less sugar per serving than the regular product.


Why are you just focused on sugar? 

Good health is influenced by many dietary factors; however, sugar has been highlighted as the biggest contributor to obesity and type-2 diabetes (per the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition report). There's an overwhelming consensus about the negative impacts of sugar on health, more so than any other ingredient. 


What examples are there of foods that are currently zero VAT rated but you see as unhealthy?

  • Cakes
  • Flapjacks
  • Toffee apples
  • Cake decorations – including hundreds and thousands, royal icing, glace cherries, and even jelly shapes (whatever these are)
  • Biscuits with a covering which is not chocolate
  • Chilled / frozen ready meals / convenience foods
  • Canned foods – e.g. hot dog sausages

Can you give some examples of food categories which are currently subject to the standard rate of VAT but could be subject to the reduced VAT to propose?

Absolutely. Cordials, squashes, carbonated soft drinks, confectionery, ice cream and popcorn are just a few categories which are all making conscious efforts to reduce sugar in their products.

We all enjoy a sweet treat. We know that. But we also want to be healthy. Manufactures are therefore innovating to allow shoppers to do this.



What is Oppo ice cream?

Oppo was created on a belief that indulgent food doesn’t need loads of sugar or calories to taste good.

Oppo are on a mission to allow you to indulge in proper ice cream without compromising your health. They make a luxury dairy ice cream that has less than 60% of the sugar and calories found in regular ice cream. It's also more expensive, because of the high quality ingredients they use in place of the lashings of sugar found in regular ice cream. Adding VAT on top of this expense means that healthier indulgences like Oppo are out of reach of most regular consumers.

It's now time for the Government to get on board and put their money where their mouth is in supporting the creation of a healthier nation. 

You can find out more on Oppo and where they're stocked here. 


Who are the Oppo brothers? 

Charlie and Harry are the Oppo brothers, founders of Oppo ice cream and spearheading the #DontTaxHealthy petition.


What ingredients do you use to create Oppo?

Oppo is made using fresh milk (meadow grazed, non GMO, hormone free), cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, stevia leaf, and erythritol (natural sweetener with zero calories and sugars, erythritol is also found in melons and grapes). 


How much sugar is in Oppo?

Oppo has 60% less sugar than regular ice cream. On average, there are just 6.7g of sugar in Oppo and these are naturally occurring sugars from the milk and fruits we use.


But you use stevia. I thought this had negative health effects?

Not at all. Stevia is a natural plant extract from South America which can actually help people lower high blood pressure, cholesterol, help weight loss and also helps diabetics enjoy many products which would normally have to be excluded from their diet due to high sugar content.


How much more expensive is it for Oppo to use healthier sugar alternatives?

Sugar is insanely cheap at just 50p per kg. Whereas healthier sugar alternatives such as the ingredients we use in Oppo are as high as £11 per kg - more than 20x more expensive.

About Sugarwise

What is Sugarwise?

Sugarwise's mission is to increase the availability of low sugar options in food and drink and to increase public awareness about the variety of lower sugar options.

How do products qualify for the Sugarwise kitemark? 

Sugarwise have a unique test which can differentiate between total sugar and free sugar in food and drink. Products with the Sugarwise mark have undergone stringent testing and are guaranteed to be low in free sugars. 

Why are free sugars important? 

World Health Organisation guidelines recommend limiting free sugars to no more than 5% of daily calorie intake. Public Health guidelines only concern total sugars, not distinguishing between total sugar and free sugar - ie. added sugar and the sugar naturally present in food and drink. The Sugarwise logo is designed to help consumers identify products which are low in the kind of sugars which they should avoid.


How you can get involved


I want to add my name to the petition, how do I do this?

It only takes 30 seconds to add your name to our petition. Just follow this link to our petition page here. Thank you so much in advance for your support. 

Further questions?