Could taxes on foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) improve climate health and nutrition in Scotland?

Nneli Amarachi, C Revoredo-Giha, Wisdom Dogbe*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Foods high in fats, sugar and salt (HFSS) have a significant impact on public health, the climate and the economy. As such, it is critical to ascertain how pricing policies could help reduce their consumption in Scotland. This study analysed secondary data of 3,260 households from Kantar Worldpanel, which comprised 18 food categories consumed in Scotland. The primary objective was to simulate the implications of an excise tax imposed on HFSS food purchases on climate
health and consumer welfare using uncompensated own- and cross-price elasticities estimated from the Exact Affine Stone Index demand model. Two policy scenarios were considered: taxing all HFSS while the prices of the remaining foods remain unchanged; and taxing HFSS while subsidising fruit and vegetables with the revenue generated. The results from the study indicate that imposing taxes on HFSS would reduce their consumption due to price effects. A
10% tax on HFSS food groups while subsidising fruit and vegetables with the tax revenues simultaneously brought about a 5-9% decline in the consumption of HFFS and an 11% and 7% rise in vegetable and fruit consumption respectively. Weekly per capita greenhouse gas emissions could increase by 2% if fruit and vegetables were subsidised with the tax revenues, while decreasing by 3% when only HFSS food groups were taxed. Taxing HFSS without a subsidy policy in place was more regressive on consumers than when fruit and vegetables were subsidised. In conclusion, imposing a revenue-neutral HFSS tax policy would result in a trade22 off between dietary, welfare and environmental goals. The policy scenario adopted by the 23 government would depend on the national goal being pursued.
Original languageEnglish
Article number138564
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date29 Aug 2023
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Oct 2023


  • CO -Eq emission
  • EASI demand
  • Foods high in fats
  • Revenue-neutral tax
  • Scotland
  • Sugar and salt (HFSS)


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