Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Fat Tax and Nutella Tax

There seems to be an international flavor to our blog this week. We last discussed the Carrot Rebellion. Let’s now discuss the “Fat Tax” and “Nutella Tax.”
Truly, I am not making this up.
About a year ago Denmark implemented a tax on all foods with saturated fat content above 2.3 percent. Its intent was to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods; you know, like butter, sausage, cream and cheese. Apparently mankind has been on a one-way road to health perdition since we domesticated animals.

The tax didn’t go particularly well. While it did raise over $210 million, many Danes took to lower-cost alternatives or simply crossed the border into Germany. An additional advantage to Germany was that prices are approximately 20% lower.
This past Saturday Denmark announced that it was abolishing the tax, since it was having the negative consequences of inflating food prices and putting jobs at risk. The government further announced that it was cancelling its plans to further tax sugar.
Do you ever wonder how much ideological kool-aid one must drink to not have seen this coming?
That brings us to France.
Have you heard of a product called Nutella? It is made of chocolate and hazelnut, not a personal favorite. Senators in France have called for a major tax on palm oil (think 300%), which is a principal ingredient in Nutella. The tax has become known as the “Nutella Tax.” There are some bad things associated with palm oil, including deforestation pressures in Borneo and Indonesia. I agree – deforestation is a bad thing. So are droopy pants in public. Neck tattoos. Loud vulgar music. Inane cell phone calls in the grocery aisles.  
I am thinking palm oil doesn’t even make the top 300 list.

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