Updates on beverage & sugar taxes in Latin America & the Caribbean
Sweetened beverage sales in Jamaica, one study suggested, fell by more than 4 percent as a result of a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with at least one researcher suggesting that the tax rate should be doubled. Citing rising obesity rates, the Jamaican government has also restricted sales of sweetened beverages in schools in addition to a major public health education campaign. Currently, beverages with more than 6 g per 100 ml of sugar cannot be sold in preschools and primary and secondary schools; that level will drop gradually to 2.5 g by 2023.
Other island nations have adopted sugar taxes in the last few decades in the Caribbean and Polynesia. In Bermuda, the government instituted a stunning 50 percent tax on sweetened beverages and syrups, candies, and even sugar in October 2018, scheduled to jump to 75 percent this April. Unsweetened beverages, fruit juices, and diet beverages are exempt. Some three-quarters of Bermudans are reported as overweight or obese.
Panama’s legislature approved a pair of beverage taxes in February 2019 of 8 percent on sweetened beverages and 10 percent on syrups and concentrates. (A previous proposal specified 7 percent on sodas, 5 percent on other sweetened beverages, and 10 percent on beverage syrups and concentrates.) The law also calls for a nutritional information label on these products. Industry groups have requested a presidential veto, reports La Estrella de Panama.
Citing both public health and budgets, the Paraguayan government is contemplating raising the current 5 percent top tax on nonalcoholic carbonated beverages to 8 percent; taxes on some alcoholic beverages would also be raised to 20 percent from the current 12 percent.
A study last year suggested that Chile’s beverage tax lead to a drop of almost 22 percent in monthly sales volumes in its first year. The actual implementation of the tax in 2014 was two-fold: The tax on beverages with more than 6.25 g of sugar per 100 ml was raised from 13 to 18 percent but lowered to 10 percent for beverages below that sugar level. In effect, this meant an 8 percent tax on beverages with higher sweetener content. The multinational research team found that lower- and higher-income households cut consumption of sweetened beverages by 12 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
Sweetened beverage sales in Jamaica, one study suggested, fell by more than 4 percent as a result of a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages
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