With three out of four adults overweight or obese, and half of the population consuming one sugary drink per day, Bermuda is facing a public health crisis. With obesity leading to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer among others, urgent action is required. On the 1st October 2018, the Bermudan government introduced a phased sugar tax, applying 50% duty to sugary soft drinks (sodas, energy drinks, non-100% fruit juices, drink powders and dilutables), candies and pure-sugar imports. In April 2019, the tax increased to 75% and was expanded to include food products with cocoa. This project aims to understand the extent to which this tax has been passed on to consumers in Bermuda, the potential impact on their consumption behaviour, and their perception of the tax, which will be compared to public perception of a similar tax recently implemented in Anguilla.
Much of the tax products on demand can be found within local supermarkets. Only locally owned companies can operate in Bermuda. The major sources of food in Bermuda are the MarketPlace group, Arnold’s, Lindo’s, The Supermart and several upmarket stores like Miles Market and Harrington Hundreds. Although there is a great availability of food, car or moped access is usually required. The effect of the sugar tax on imports, health and the local population in Bermuda is unknown; therefore, this study will aim to assess its impact in a diverse set of outcomes.
Based on the specification provided by PHE, the project will include four types of analyses, as follows:
1. An import analysis to analyse whether the sugar tax has changed food and drink products
imported to Bermuda;
2. A price change analysis to measure the pass-through of tax to the consumer;
3. An analysis of the substitution effect potentially generated by the tax, to identify any
increase in consumption of particular food or beverages, as a result of the increased tax
potentially decreasing consumption of others;
4. A qualitative analysis to determine public acceptability of the tax.
Case KK, Pineda E, Olney J, Segal AB, Sassi F. The ‘sugar tax’ in Bermuda: a mixed methods study of general population and key stakeholder perceptions. BMC Public Health. 2022 Aug 16;22(1):1557. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-13945-9
Segal AB, Olney J, Case KK, Sassi F. The benefits and challenges of taxing sugar in a small island state: an interrupted time series analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2022 Dec;19(1):1-1. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-022-01308-x