Scaling up food pricing policies in the Pacific: A guide to action
BMJ Global Health
There are calls for governments around the world to adopt pricing policies, including taxes, subsidies and price controls that ensure all people have access to, and can afford, healthy diets. Despite the strong potential of pricing policies to promote healthy diets and to support a post-COVID-19 recovery, there are gaps in evidence with regard to € how' to design and apply effective food taxes in practice, and countries report challenges in navigating the different policy options. In this practice piece, we examine the global evidence for food taxes with a view to identifying practical lessons for policy design, adoption and implementation, using the Pacific Islands Region as a case study. We present a systematic resource that draws on locally generated evidence, and a Pacific conceptualisation of healthy diets, to address considerations in setting the tax base, rate and mechanisms, and to ensure tax targets are clearly identifiable within national tax and administrative systems. Health and Finance collaboration at the country level could ensure tax design addresses concerns for the impacts of food taxes on employment, economics and equity, as well as position food taxes as an opportunity to fund revenue shortfalls faced by governments following the COVID-19 pandemic. We demonstrate a need to review other policies for consistency with national health objectives to ensure that countries avoid inadvertently undermining health taxes, for example, by ensuring that foods with known non-communicable disease risk are not being price protected or promoted.
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Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research