Russia: Fizzy Drinks Might Get 20% Costlier

UrBC, Moscow, November 13, 2018. A board of experts working under the Russian Government suggested imposing excise duty payments on fizzy drinks; the proposal was presented in a response to the nationwide Public Healthcare Improvement Project.

According to Izvestia, the goal is to encourage Russians to eat more healthily; there are currently 2m people living in the country who have been diagnosed with obesity. The Healthcare Ministry has already supported the initiative.

The number of Russians diagnosed with obesity went up by 6% last year compared with the year 2016. The overall number of patients came to 2m people, or 1.3% of the country’s overall population.

Now the Healthcare Ministry already put forth proposals on excising sugary drinks and salty foods earlier. The idea was first voiced in the strategy on promoting a healthier lifestyle. It was pointed out that noncontagious diseases such as cardiovascular ones were responsible for 67.6% of all deaths in the country. These diseases are typically brought about by smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and drinking too much.

The Finance Ministry also considered the idea in 2016; the suggestion was to make customers pay RUR 5 per every liter in sugar tax. This was estimated to bring RUR 25bn into the national budget in 2017 and RUR 27bn in 2018. Later on, it was thought expedient to look into Great Britain’s experience first.

Russia’s Agriculture Ministry, however, is against getting fizzy drinks excised. The ministry criticized the strategy on promoting a healthier lifestyle overall.

The Economy Ministry also warned in May that a sugar tax would result in soaring prices, shrining markets, and adulterated food items. The fizzy drink and juice traders are expected to lose over RUR 100bn in the next three years as well.

‘We see the sugar tax as a poorly grounded, discriminatory measure,’ says President of Soft Drink & Mineral Water Manufacturers’ Union Maxim Novikov.

No food items have been excised in Russia thus far: the only ones taxed are strong drinks and grain alcohol manufacturers. In case the sugar tax does get imposed, the price of fizzy drinks will grow from RUR 65 to RUR 78 per liter on average.

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