September 27, 2023

The industrial sector will have to learn to innovate when it comes to food manufacturing once the twin taxes on junk food and sweetened beverages are implemented, according to a nutrition official.

Jovita Raval, National Nutrition Council information and education chief, said the government’s plan to tax junk food and sweetened beverages could be in place within this year or early next year.

Raval shared the information last month during an online forum on creating a healthier food landscape in ASEAN.

Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno announced in June a proposal for a junk food and sweetened beverage tax to be jointly pursued by the Department of Finance and Department of Health as a proactive measure to tackle diabetes, obesity, and non-communicable diseases related to poor diet.

Raval said aside from improving Filipinos’ diet, the tax initiative will also drive the industry to innovate.

“We look at the industry to come up with new products with less processing and more on whole foods,” she said.
She added in times of bountiful harvests, produce, rather than just let it go to waste, could be preserved. “So there’s a market for food preservation of whole foods.”

The measure will also support the local economy, especially the farmers.  

Under the proposed tax program, Diokno said the DOF plans to impose a P10 tax per 100 grams or P10 tax per 100 milliliters of pre-packaged foods lacking in nutritional value.

These foods include confectioneries, snacks, desserts, and frozen confectioneries that exceed the DOH’s specified thresholds for fat, salt, and sugar content.

Diokno said the DOF also intends to increase the sweetened beverage tax rate under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law to P12 per liter, regardless of the type of sweetener used.

The tax would also eliminate exemptions in order to broaden the tax base.

Under the existing Train Law, there is no excise tax on junk food, but there is one on sweetened beverages.

The current excise tax scheme for sweetened beverages is P6 per liter for those that use caloric and non-caloric sweeteners and P12 per liter for those that use high fructose corn syrups. It exempts sweetened beverages using purely coconut sap sugar and purely steviol glycosides.

Diokno said the junk food and sweetened beverage tax package is projected to generate an additional P76 billion during the first year and reduce by 21 percent the consumption of junk food.

He said the re-venues from the tax package would fund several socioeconomic programs such as the Department of Social Welfare and Deve-lopment’s food stamp program.

In backing the proposal, the DOH said the twin tax measures would help bankroll various health programs and services, including the Universal Health Care Act. – Press release