Empowering Canadians to make informed choices should be the only option when it comes to making food and beverage purchases
Canada’s beverage industry is committed to working with all levels of government and other partners to identify meaningful solutions that will address the complex public health issue of obesity. We believe that education and information, not taxation, will result in consumers making informed food and beverage decisions for themselves and their families.
According to Health Canada, no one single food or beverage can be held responsible for weight gain. In fact, the Canadian government looked at fats, carbohydrates (sugars), protein and fibre in the diet and concluded that “it is not what you eat, but rather, how much – the total number of calories consumed – that significantly contributes to obesity”. 1
“Taxing or restricting a single product will not solve complex health problems,” said Jim Goetz, President, Canadian Beverage Association. “Educating the public on making informed food and beverage decisions is where we need to focus if we want to make a long-lasting impact. The Canadian Beverage Association and our members have already implemented a number of initiatives aimed at providing consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.”
Industry Led Initiatives Include: Calorie Education
- In February 2011, the industry launched Clear on Calories, a front of pack caloric labelling initiative designed to provide Canadians with the caloric content of beverages so they could make more informed purchasing and consumption decisions for themselves and their families.
Beverages in Schools
- In 2006 our members introduced Industry Guidelines for the Sale of Beverages in Schools. Completed in 2009, this commitment removed all soft drinks and provided water and 100% juice in elementary and middle schools. It also removed full-calorie soft drinks from secondary schools and capped caloric content and portion sizes.
Marketing to Children
- CBA members worked together to develop extensive Guidelines on Marketing to Children that prevent marketing of beverages – other than fruit juice, milk and water – to children under the age of 12. In addition, many beverage companies participate in the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and other global guidelines which further limit marketing to children.
Declining source of calories: It is important to note that overall calories from sugar sweetened beverages have been declining for the past 14 years.
- Production innovation and the introduction of many new diet, no-and low-calorie products has reduced the total caloric content of all beverage products produced by CBA members over 25% since 1999.
- Canadean Research, a research and market analysis company, shows that between 2002 and 2013 consumption of all sugar sweetened beverages has declined in Canada by over 13 per cent.
“When groups talk about taxation, it is important for Canadians to remember that they already pay both a federal and provincial tax at check out when they purchase our member’s product,” continued Goetz. “Any additional tax would be a tax on your grocery cart.” There is no jurisdiction in the world that has been able to link soft drink taxation with a reduction in obesity rates. There are only two states in the US that have a tax directed at obesity reduction and those two states, Arkansas and West Virginia, rank among the top ten of American states with high obesity rates even though Virginia’s tax has been in place since the 1950’s. It was recently revealed that the Manitoba government considered taxing high-sugar and/or high-fat foods but realized that taxes such as these don’t change consumption patterns. Manitoba’s Finance Minister Jennifer Howard was quoted as saying “Having this kind of tax on certain kinds of food doesn’t accomplish the goal, is hard to administer and it’s just not something we’re going to do… it’s not something that actually achieves the goal of ensuring that people make healthier food choices.”
The Canadian Beverage Association is the national trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute the majority of non-alcoholic refreshment beverages consumed in Canada. Over 58,000 individuals are employed directly, indirectly and through induced jobs in the Canadian beverage industry.