SSB sales fall in Mexico after second year of taxes

Mexico’s peso-per-liter tax on sugar-sweetened beverages enacted in 2014 continues to affect sales of those beverages in the second year of the tax, show results from GFRP research, published in Health Affairs. The impact of the tax is important information about how taxes on foods or beverages affect consumer behavior, especially over a sustained period of time – and can inform countries or municipalities about the use of fiscal policies along with other interventions to reduce the burden of chronic diseases.

The New York Times discusses the GFRP team research in an article from The Upshot:

Studies on the first year of the tax found that sugary beverage consumption fell substantially, with the biggest decreases among low-income Mexicans — the group at highest risk of obesity-related diseases. But industry analysts and anti-tax advocates had argued that the one-year results could just be a blip that would reverse as companies retooled their products, or as consumers adjusted to higher prices for their favorite drinks.

The new study, published online Wednesday in Health Affairs, shows that the results of such a tax may be far more long-lasting. The research, based on shopping data from a large sample of urban Mexican households, showed that the first year’s consumption declines continued during the second year. Over all, sugary drink sales fell by 5.5 percent in 2014 compared with the year before, and by 9.7 percent in 2015 — again compared with 2013. (The results are based on predicted volumes had there been no tax.) Once again, the largest reductions were among the poorest Mexicans.

An article by Reuters Health also discusses the GFRP team research:

A soda tax has continued to help reduce Mexico’s consumption of unhealthy beverages, researchers say. Purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages were down nearly 10 percent in the second year of the tax, a new study shows. “The tax is working” toward its objective, senior author Shu Wen Ng said in a phone interview.

Read the full publication in Health Affairs here, and read more about our research in Mexico here.