Friday 7 August 2015

Rehabilitating the Danish fat tax

I've noticed that the 'public health' lobby have been trying to gently rehabilitate the Danish fat tax in recent months. I suppose they feel it is necessary if they are to push for a sugar tax. They are using a little trick to pretend that the tax 'worked'. I've written a post for the Spectator about it...

The key claim of the revisionists is that sales of fatty products fell by 10 to 15 per cent figure as a result of the tax. This figure comes from a study that looked at sales of butter, margarine and cooking oils in the first three months of the tax’s existence. The study did indeed show a fall of 10 to 15 per cent in those early days but there is a simple explanation for this. Knowing that the tax was to be introduced on 1 October 2011, thrifty Danes stockpiled fatty products in advance. The extent of the hoarding is shown in the graph below. Note the massive spike in sales just before the tax was introduced.

Having filled their fridges and cupboards with butter and oils, Danes had no need to buy more for a few weeks, but you can see from the graph that sales had returned to their pre-tax level by Christmas. The 10 to 15 per cent drop was therefore a temporary decline in the sale of certain very high fat goods as a result of previous hoarding. It is wholly misleading to present it as a permanent drop in the sale of products containing saturated fat as a result of the tax.

Do please read the rest.

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