Portuguese consumers cut their sugar intake by “5,500 tonnes in 2017” after the introduction of a sugar tax at the beginning of the year, according to the country’s health ministry.
The government said that consumption of the most sugary drinks has halved, both because of the reduction per se and due to the reformulation of products. Around €80 million has been raised by the levy, which has been redirected to reduce debt in the country’s health service.
Drinks with more than 80g of sugar per litre are taxed at €16.46 per 100 litres. Drinks with fewer than 80g pay a tax of €8.22 per 100 litres.
Now the government aims to work alongside the food and beverage industry to make food healthier and reformulate products with high levels of salt, fat or sugar.
Portuguese assistant secretary of state for health Fernando Araújo said: “We are going to set annual reduction targets so that they are in line with European best practices.” He added that the plan is to reach an agreement and not impose more taxes.
The Portuguese government said that in this year’s budget the sugar tax will be revised, which could lead to lower taxation levels.
Governments around the world and parts of the food and beverage industry are increasingly collaborating to reformulate products.
Last week, Lithuania announced an initiative alongside food manufacturers to reduce salt and sugar content in food and drinks, as the government revealed it won’t introduce a sugar tax.
Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Orkla are among the companies that have signed up to the agreement in which companies will make changes to their production voluntarily.
The country’s health minister Aurelijus Veryga said: “I am glad that we in Lithuania can demonstrate a different way of solving this through an agreement with producers.”
Earlier this month, a spokesman from the Australian government announced that the country won’t support the introduction of a tax on sugary soft drinks.
The UK, Ireland, the Philippines, South Africa and Estonia are due to implement sugar taxes this year and Bermuda has launched an eight-week public consultation on a proposed levy.
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