Mexico should resist industry pressure to reduce sugary drinks tax

We join a group of 17 international organisations urging Mexico to resist pressure from the food industry to reduce their groundbreaking 10% tax on sugary drinks

27 October 2015

Last week, Mexico’s Congressional Finance Committee proposed and voted in favour of halving the country’s sugary drinks tax from 10% to 5% for some drinks on sale in the country.

The proposal comes amid concerns that Mexico’s congress has been unduly influenced by pressure from the food industry and recommends that the tax is reduced from 10% to 5% on drinks with 5 grams of added sugar or less per 100 millimetres. In response we have joined a group of 17 international public interest organisations urging the Mexican government to retain the tax at 10% for all sugary drinks.

Mexico implemented a 10% tax on sugary drinks in January 2014 in an effort to reduce its obesity rates, which are one of the highest in the global rankings. Ten per cent is also one of the highest rates of tax on sugary drinks anywhere in the world, and preliminary results suggest that it has been effective in reducing purchases of sugary drinks in the country.

Bryony Sinclair, Senior Policy & Public Affairs Manager, said: “We are deeply concerned about the proposed changes to Mexico’s sugary drinks tax. If the tax is reduced - especially after the evidence suggests it’s been effective at reducing purchases of sugary drinks – it would be a significant set back for improving diets and reducing obesity not only in Mexico, but also for those countries across the world that are looking to replicate their success”.

World Cancer Research Fund International advocates for the use of economic tools - like Mexico’s sugary drinks tax – as part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to tackle the global obesity epidemic.  

Notes to editors:

  1. Mexico’s sugary drinks tax of 1 peso per litre (about 10%) was implemented on 1 January 2014 and has been praised by the international community as a policy action from which other countries can learn.
  2. Preliminary results from an evaluation, conducted by the Mexican National Institute of Public Health and the University of North Carolina, showed that the 10% tax reduced purchases of sugary drinks on average by 6% during 2014, with the decline accelerating and reaching 12% in December 2014 (compared to pre-tax trends).
  3. Using economic tools - like Mexico’s sugary drinks tax - is one part of a broader, comprehensive strategy that we recommend to reduce obesity and promote healthy diets; other effective tools that governments can use are outlined in our NOURISHING policy framework.