Has the sugar tax already been passed on to the consumer?

Colruyt and Delhaize have dutifully adjusted their prices and usually charge consumers for the excise duty increase imposed by the government to discourage the use of sugary beverages. At the other retailers – Carrefour and Albert Heijn – consumers today pay nothing extra for their soft drinks.

From January, additional excise duties will be levied on drinks with added sugars (including sugar substitutes). Soft drinks, certain teas and syrups should become more expensive in order to encourage consumers to use less of these drinks. This is part of the fight for a healthier lifestyle. The additional excise duties vary from 1 cent for a 25cl can to 8 cents for a 1.5l PET bottle.

We had to wait and see whether the retailers would pass on this tax to the customer or whether they would take up less margin themselves. And how quickly these adjustments would be made.

Daltix analysed the soft drink category on 2, 3 and 4 January 2018 and came to the following conclusions:

  • Colruyt follows the government’s reasoning and was the first retailer to include the extra excise duties in consumer prices: a number of adjusted prices were already published on 2 January, and most of the adjustments followed on 3 and 4 January. Remarkably, most of the prices of the private labels Boni and Everyday remained unchanged: less than 1/3 of these products became more expensive, which increases the price gap with the A-brands. A few popular products such as Coca Cola Zero and Regular in PET were also not increased in price. And the hip Fever-Tree also escaped the price increase. All in all, more than 65% of the products were increased in price because of the extra excise duties.
  • Delhaize introduced the price increase later (set on January 4) but is making more adjustments than Colruyt: more than 80% of their soft drink range was increased in price. Remarkably, the prices of the private label Delhaize remained unchanged. Their cheapest 365 brand did, however, adjust its prices.
  • Carrefour and Albert Heijn have not yet implemented any price increases. Is it strategy or does it just take up too much time in the post-year-end period?

Whether or not excise duties are passed on to consumers can have an impact on the competitive position of retailers. The ability to monitor consumer prices on a daily basis helps in any case to gain insight, to maintain control and to take any necessary measures.

Daltix monitors all prices at the retailers in real time and provides structured and accurate price information (including promotion and product range) at store, category or product level. If you want more detailed information about the soft drink category or about any other category, please contact us.