Sweet Talk: Thailand to pay more for sugary drinks

Having a sweet tooth will become more expensive starting next month when the sugar tax goes up.

Beverage companies can expect to pay another THB2 for each liter of sucrose-infused juice when the tax hike, meant to discourage our appetites for insane amounts of sugar, takes place Oct. 1. It is unclear how much that cost will be passed along to consumers. 

Excise Department spokesman Nutthakorn Utensute said the tax, introduced two years ago, is scheduled to increase every two years. Next month’s statutory hike will increase from the current average of THB1 to THB3, per liter. It will go up to THB5 in September 2021. The specific rate structure varies based on the beverage volume. 

It covers drinks such as soda water, carbonated soft drinks, and energy drinks, as well as coffee and tea. 

Nutthakorn said they believe the tax has caused manufacturers to lower their sugar content, but public awareness remains low.

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The tax is estimated to put THB4.5 billion (US$147 million) in state coffers from next year onward, over double the current annual take of about THB2 billion. The spokesman swore the policy was motivated by public health concerns and not stuffing the treasury.

Thais consume, on average, about 26 teaspoons of added sugar every day, which is over four times what the World Health Organization recommends.

The US American Heart Association said in 2018 that men shouldn’t eat more than nine teaspoons, while women should keep to six teaspoons, maximum. Though a study earlier this year found Americans blow past that by consuming about 17 teaspoons of added sugar daily.

Price breakdowns for sugar tax between next month and September 2021. Information: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
Price breakdowns for sugar tax between next month and September 2021. Information: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Related:

Govt mulls hiking tax on sugary drinks to fix country’s sweet tooth

Average Thai consumes 26 teaspoons of sugar per day: officials


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