New target for Irish food exporters as UK health report targets sugar, salt and meat

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A UK government report urging new taxes on sugar, salt and for consumers to eat a third less meat, is expected to raise new challenges for Irish food export companies who rely on Great Britain. Brittany as their biggest market.

The second of the UK’s National Food Strategy reports, which is tasked with finding ways to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis, would have significant implications for Irish food companies selling in the key UK market .

The National Food Strategy group had recommended earlier this year on British television to ban junk food ads before 9 p.m. and to ban online ads altogether. Promotions such as “buy one, get one free” on foods and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar will be banned in supermarkets from next April.

The UK food group is now looking to charge £ 3 (€ 3.50) per kilogram of sugar and £ 6 per kilogram of salt sold wholesale, for use in processed foods, restaurants and the catering industry.

It would encourage manufacturers to change food recipes or reduce portion sizes, and could bring the UK government up to £ 3.4 billion.

The government faced a lot of controversy and reluctance from food and beverage producers when it implemented its deferred sugar tax designed to encourage consumers and producers to move away from highly non-alcoholic beverages. sweet.

The tax added about 10 cents to the price of a can of cola, but was not established until May 2018. The tax collected millions in its first year of operation, which were intended for use. in promoting healthy foods.

The new UK recommendations would also require food companies with more than 250 employees to disclose their sales of fruits, vegetables, protein and products high in fat, sugar or salt and to set minimum food standards. A 30% reduction in meat consumption would help the UK reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the new study.

Still, a tax on meat would be “politically impossible” and the UK government would do better to encourage consumers to change their eating habits, according to the report. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “not attracted” to the idea of ​​additional taxes on food.

New figures from CSOs showed the growing importance of the UK market for Irish food exporters since the Irish Sea border entered into force in December.

Exports to Britain increased by € 262m, or 28%, to € 1.2bn in May from May 2020, aided by sales across the Irish Sea from ‘food and live animals. Imports from Great Britain fell 24% to 927 million euros over the same period.

Irish food companies have said they are responding to consumer demand for healthier food.

Paul Kelly, director of Ibec’s business group, Food Drink Ireland, said he supported a national strategic plan to make Ireland “a world leader in sustainable food systems” and welcomed a plan existing Ministry of Health.

“The food industry in Ireland has long been engaged in a variety of initiatives that help consumers lead healthy diets and lifestyles, including product reformulation which has led to significant reductions in salt and sugar, ”Kelly said.

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