Slovakia – The Slovak government is preparing to introduce a new tax on sugary and sweetened soft drinks starting in 2025 to address public health concerns related to sugar consumption.  

A draft bill outlining the proposed tax, which would have varying rates depending on the type of beverage, is set to be presented to the Slovak parliament. 

Peter Požgay, CEO of Slovakia-based nutritional supplement company Body World, said: “The initial draft of the law was looking to tax all drinks and instant powdered drink preparations containing either sugar or a sweetener. 

The tax was set to be €0.20 (US$0.22) or €0.30 (US$0.33) per liter, depending upon caffeine content. For liquid concentrates, like syrups, the tax was €1.05 per liter, and for powdered drink formulas, the tax was set at €4.30 per kilogram.” 

According to Požgay, the proposed tax would be in addition to the existing value-added tax (VAT) of approximately 20 percent.  

The Ministry of Finance announced earlier this week that sweetened milk, yogurt, and plant-based drinks would be exempt from the new tax. Dietary supplements, such as over-the-counter liquid vitamin drinks and protein drinks with added sugar or sweeteners, are also excluded from the proposal. 

Despite these exemptions, the proposal has generated significant backlash. Požgay noted that the proposal has led to a “very negative sentiment and reactions from both the general public, as well as trade and professional organizations,” because it would have initially affected healthy drinks and foods, and sports nutrition products. 

Following public and industry feedback, the initial draft was amended on May 13 to exclude these healthy drinks and foods from the tax.  

However, Požgay remains cautious, pointing out that categorizing products, particularly in the case of sports nutrition, can be tricky. “We need to see the actual phrasing when the law is presented in the parliament,” he said. 

The Slovak soft drinks trade body, AVNM, has also criticized the proposal, arguing that it unfairly targets soft drinks. 

AVNM argued, “The research carried out so far clearly shows that taxation of soft drinks only leads to the substitution and consumption of non-taxed products with similar nutritional properties, burdens low-income households in particular, and supports shopping tourism.” 

The move in Slovakia comes as other European countries also reconsider their taxation policies on sugary drinks.  

Last month, the Dutch government outlined five potential scenarios for revising its sugar tax on non-alcoholic beverages. Since 1993, the Netherlands has applied a flat rate of €26.13 (US$27.96) per 100 liters to all non-alcoholic drinks, regardless of sugar content.  

The Dutch government is now considering an additional tax based on sugar content to promote healthier drink options. 

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