This food could face the next sin tax after sugar: Report

Would you pay extra taxes for meat?

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Meat could face higher taxes related to health concerns and criticism over the role of the industry in issues like climate change, deforestation and animal cruelty, Bloomberg reported based on an analysis from Fitch Solutions Marco Research.

The research group said the idea already faces opposition from farming groups, but it has emerged as a trend in Western Europe, according to the report. But could this happen in the U.S.?

“The global rise of sugar taxes makes it easy to envisage a similar wave of regulatory measures targeting the meat industry,” researchers said, but “it is highly unlikely that a tax would be implemented anytime soon in the United States or Brazil.”

Still, the idea could have some traction elsewhere. Earlier this year, a United Nations report said an emissions tax could reduce greenhouse gases produced by livestock farming. Bloomberg reported that some German politicians recently proposed raising the country’s sales tax on meat to fund better living conditions for livestock. Denmark and Sweden have looked at similar proposals, according to Fitch Solutions’ analysis.

Meat is currently cheaper to produce than plant-based alternatives, but that could eventually change, according to a recent report in Outside magazine. While the beef industry can rely on scale to lower its prices, makers of meat replacements like Impossible Foods say they use significantly fewer resources to produce food. That could, one day, have advantages when courting both environmentally-sensitive consumers and price-sensitive shoppers.

Goldsmiths, University of London even went so far as to ban the sale of beef products on campus as it attempts to become carbon neutral by 2025. The U.K. National Farmers Union criticized the ban, saying it was “overly simplistic” to blame beef alone for climate change, Bloomberg reported.

The market for those faux meats has been rapidly growing. Even in the U.S., consumers are showing a willingness to try meat alternatives from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which have both announced new partnerships this year with a slew of large restaurant chains including Burger King, Dunkin’ and Subway.

Tim Hortons is testing three 100% plant-based breakfast sandwich options, including a Beyond Meat Breakfast Sandwich, a Beyond Meat Farmers Breakfast Wrap and a Beyond Meat Vegan Sandwich. (CNW Group/Tim Hortons)

Food service provider Aramark, which recently added Beyond Meat items to its menus, said its research has shown that 60 percent of consumers want to reduce their meat consumption, largely for health and weight management reasons.

Still, new taxes on food products can draw controversy. Efforts to add taxes on sugary drinks like soda have faced hearty opposition from beverage makers and some consumers, who have questioned the health benefits of a tax. In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested he would abolish the country’s tax on sugary drinks, Bloomberg reported.

But health concerns could help a proposed meat tax, according to Fitch Solutions’ analysis, saying it could be “a policy sibling to the sugar tax, supported on the basis that meat does play a role in a balanced diet but over-consumption is a public health issue.”