BELGIUM: Coca Cola says sugar tax just to fill state coffers

January 21, 2016
Sugaronline |

Drinks multinational Coca Cola has responded for a first time since Belgium introduced a new sugar tax on drinks on 1 January. The company's new top executive in Belgium, Ben Bijnens, insists that the measure, sold as a health initiative, is merely a way of shoring up Belgium's public finances, according to Belgium's Flanders News.

Coca Cola is the biggest player on the soft drinks market in Belgium. Ben Bijnens says it's too early to say what the exact impact on sales is going to be, but he is convinced the impact will be a negative one.

Coca Cola is particularly incensed because only soft drinks are being targeted. Ben Bijnens: "They are trying to sell this as a health measure, but we do not believe that picking out one category is a way of doing something about people's health."

The Coca Cola executive points to the "pioneering role" his company is playing in marketing small sized packages: 55% of sales involves packages that are equal to or smaller than 500 ml.

The Belgian tax is also levied on soft drinks that do not contain sugar. The company hopes talks will lead to an agreement to remove products like Cola light, Zero, Fanta light and Chaudfontaine from the "sugar tax".