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Red meat could be next sin tax after sugar

In bid to curb climate change.
If taxes gain traction, it could encourage more people to switch to poultry or plant-based protein and help drive the popularity of meat substitutes. Picture: Shutterstock

Meat could be a target for higher taxes given criticism of the industry’s role in climate change, deforestation and animal cruelty, according to a report by Fitch Solutions Macro Research.

The idea is still its infancy and faces a lot of opposition from farming groups, but it’s emerging as a trend in Western Europe, said the research group. If taxes gain traction, it could encourage more people to switch to poultry or plant-based protein and help drive the popularity of meat substitutes.

“The global rise of sugar taxes makes it easy to envisage a similar wave of regulatory measures targeting the meat industry,” Fitch Solutions said. However, “it is highly unlikely that a tax would be implemented anytime soon in the United States or Brazil.”

In Germany, some politicians have proposed raising the sales tax on meat products to fund better livestock living conditions. A poll for the Funke media group showed a majority of Germans, or 56.4%, backed the measure, with more than a third calling it “very positive” and some 82% of voters for the environmentalist Greens in favour. Similar proposals have been introduced in Denmark and Sweden since 2016, Fitch Solutions said.

Goldsmiths, University of London, announced on Monday that it’ll stop selling beef on campus as part of a push to combat climate change. The decision was met with opposition from the UK’s National Farmers Union, which said it was “overly simplistic’’ to single out one food product as a response to global warming.

Taxes on meat and sugar have long been controversial. Shortly after coming into office in July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested he would abolish the UK’s tax on sugary drinks and said there there are better ways to address obesity.

Fitch said prices of pork and beef in Western Europe are relatively low, so any added tax would have to cause a big change in retail prices to change customer buying habits.

The loudest argument against meat at the moment is not based on health but climate change. In a report this month, the United Nations said agriculture, forestry and other land use contributes about a quarter of greenhouse emissions.

The meat industry has also been under fire after studies linked eating too much red and processed meat to illnesses ranging from heart disease to cancer. Fitch Solutions linked these concerns to the health issues that prompted the sugar tax saying, “A meat tax could therefore emerge as a policy sibling to the sugar tax, supported on the basis that meat does play a role in a balanced diet but over-consumption is a public health issue.’’

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Sugar tax has done SA no favor’s. Just lost us thousands of jobs. ANC like to copycat anything that can extort more taxes from the middle class.

Yet all the people that lost jobs and a destroyed industry now don’t pay any tax anymore.

Maybe they need someone to do the sums for them as they certainly cant.

All these taxes reminds me of the taxes that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. The state will force us all to go back to subsistence farming. If we produce our own meat they cannot tax it. Keep a lamb in your backyard and show them the middle finger.

I actually find myself not minding a tax on red meat, it will force innovation, the free market enterprise system is already busy working on a solution to produce meat without cows, and I think we are only a couple (4-6 years) away from finding cultured meat in our stores.

This has the potential to not only make the process of getting meat cleaner, but also cheaper, as the technology evolves we could one day end up buying premium (You don’t get cleaner meat than cultured meat) for 10% of what we are paying today.

End of comments.





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