The New Sin Tax

September 21st, 2011

As of October 1, many Danish residents will be faced with a noticeable hike in their grocery totals. In an effort to combat the trend of expanding waistlines, the Danish Parliament has passed a new sin tax, or 'fat tax'. The new tax will modify the prices of all foods consisting of more than 2.3 percent saturated fat. The prices of butters, oils and heavy dairies like creme fraiche will be affected, as well as cookies, cakes, and other savory snacks that tip the scales. The tax will mean an extra 16 kroner per kilogram of saturated fat, equal to nearly 3 USD per kilogram. The price jump seems alarming, but there are 58 grams of saturated fat in a stick of butter, or 0.058 kilograms, which means only an increase of $0.18 per stick. When laid out like that, it hardly seems this new 'fat tax' is going to break the bank for most people. Many people already choose to pay nearly double for more sustainable or farmer friendly products, so this new tax merely seems like a slight inflation influx. 

The Danish Parliament said that it hopes people will slim down in their efforts to save money. The tax is also predicted to bring in an extra 1.5 billion kroner in tax revenue. Denmark, a country widely known for its active population and cycling culture, is hardly known for a population troubled with obesity, but maybe they would rather take precautionary action than face the crisis the American government is battling. I have wondered for years why the American government has not taken a more reactionary approach to this issue. The corn subsidies have introduced a wide range of new processed foods over the last few decades, and have made them available to the public at prices far lower than should have been possible. There would undoubtedly be a massive outcry if these sort of foods were to double in price tomorrow, but even still, a Coke would still cost less than it does in the UK. The 'fat tax' in Denmark will not take butter and oils out of people's budget range, but it may make them rethink the biscuits at the checkout counter.

Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics 

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