Salt & sugar taxes could cost shoppers up to £4.8 billion each year

Embargoed: 00:01 Thursday 15 July 2021


Henry Dimbleby's National Food Strategy has proposed sugar and salt taxes on everyday staples that may see every household forking out an extra £172 per year to the taxman. 

Dimbleby predicts the tax would cost households between £2.9 and £3.4 billion per year, but think tank estimates put this far higher. A comprehensive tax on salt and sugar consumed could mean a £4.8 billion tax bill.

The recommendation of a £3/kg tax on sugar and a £6/kg tax on salt in processed foods is expected to increase prices on everyday essentials. Foods affected by the tax could include store cupboard staples such as jam, ketchup and cereals, which could increase in price by almost a half. The tax could also see the price of chocolate bars increase by almost a quarter, multipacks of sweets by almost a third, and crumpets by almost a quarter. 

The tax could be felt in restaurants and takeaways, increasing the cost of a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts by around 50p and a Domino’s pizza by more than 30p. This could be particularly difficult to tax in small restaurants, where quantifying the amount of salt and sugar used in every dish is burdensome.

Despite backing away from a potential additional tax on meat, the report demands a reduction in meat consumption, with the salt and sugar tax hitting products like bacon, corned beef and sausage rolls.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, Adam Smith Institute, and Institute of Economic Affairs argue the proposals would target consumers, food manufacturers and the already struggling hospitality industry. It would be deeply regressive and see food items become either tasteless or reduced in portion sizes. 

Examples of food impacted by the tax:

  • Breakfast staples like strawberry jam and frosted cornflakes could become around 46 and 33 per cent more expensive (£1.25 to £1.82 and £3.50 to £4.66) respectively.

  • Storecupboard sauces like ketchup and soy sauce could become around 23 and 43 per cent more expensive (£1.99 to £2.44 and £0.60 to £0.86) respectively.

  • Treats like Skittles and Twix bars could become around 32 and 25 per cent more expensive (£1.50 to £1.99 and £1.25 to £1.56) respectively.

  • Snacks like brownies and chocolate digestives could become around 21 and 18 per cent more expensive (£1.65 to £1.99 and £1.35 to £1.59) respectively.

  • Lunchtime choices like crumpets and jarred sandwich spread could become around 24 and 14 per cent more expensive (£0.25 to £0.31 and £1.70 to £1.93) respectively.

  • Family dinners like pizzas and pasta sauce could become around 15 and 6 per cent more expensive (£3.50 to £4.02 and £1.75 to £1.86) respectively.

  • Takeaways like Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Domino’s could become around 3 and 1.5 per cent more expensive (£15.75 to £16.22 and £20.99 to £21.32) respectively.

John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: 

"This is yet another case of middle-class meddling that will hit the poorest families hardest, as this madcap scheme will hike up costs of everyday essentials. 

“Not only do the high priests of the nanny state think that ordinary folk can't look after themselves, they also can't resist dipping their hands into taxpayers' pockets. 

“The government must reject outright any tax hikes and instead trust British families to make their own choices."

Dr Eamonn Butler, Director of the neoliberal think tank the Adam Smith Institute, says:

“We thought the nanny state had died during the pandemic, but the blob marches on thanks to a man whose privilege blinds him to the blight his proposed policies would inflict on a nation that does not want his prescription.

“Boris needs to stand up for the consumer interest and say that there is no benefit for ordinary families from increasing the cost of food while ruining its taste. 

“Henry Dimbleby should have looked at how his own firm could bring down the cost of good quality food to the reach of ordinary Britons before he decided to play with everyone else's food.”

Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs said:

“Once again, rich people want to clobber ordinary people with stealth taxes, this time on sugar and salt. By Mr Dimbleby’s own admission, this cash grab will cost consumers £3 billion, but independent analysis suggests it will cost even more.

At a time of rising inflation, after the deepest recession in 300 years, Mr Dimbleby really needs to read the room. He rightly says that a meat tax would be unpopular and regressive. If Boris Johnson is foolish enough to act on these recommendations, he will soon find the same is true of taxing basic nutrients.”

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

Danielle Boxall
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. Product costs taken from Asda, Just Eat and Dominos as of 14th July 2021.
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