The National Retail Association (NRA) opposes a number of the Health, Aged Care and Sport Standing Committee’s recommendations on diabetes in Australia, particularly the proposed sugar-sweetened beverages tax.

NRA Health and Nutrition Committee Chair Dr Alan Barclay said that if implemented, the recommendations would hurt both retailers and consumers at the height of a cost-of-living crisis.

“We know many of our customers are struggling to make ends meet in this cost-of-living crisis. We also know that many small business owners are struggling to make ends meet,” Dr Barclay said.

“The idea of introducing a new consumer tax at this time could reinforce perceptions that politicians do not understand how tough Australians are doing it due to runaway inflation.

“We believe our leaders should focus on bringing down prices and costs as their highest priority, rather than dreaming up new taxes on consumers that will drive up prices for everyday Australians and reduce margins for struggling small business owners.

“A sugar tax would put pressure on the whole supply chain, from struggling households and small family businesses to canegrowers. It may further increase food insecurity which is already affecting nearly 1 in 2 Australian households.

“There is no evidence to suggest that a modest price signal will change behaviour or decrease rates of obesity or type 2 diabetes. In fact, the recommendation of a sugar tax is predicated on the assumption that people will continue to drink sugary drinks.

“There is already a de facto sugar tax in Australia – the GST. Core foods are GST-free, making it 10 per cent cheaper than discretionary foods and drinks like soft drinks. If a 10 per cent tax doesn’t change behaviour, how high do they think the new consumer tax should be?” he said.

Dr Barclay, a renowned expert in the field of diabetes prevention and management, said Aussies are increasingly looking to retailers for a range of nutritious options.

“The health and wellbeing of Australians is influenced by the retail and food service sectors, and we support the Government’s 2030 National Diabetes Strategy that promotes better access to nutritious foods and puts consumer choice at the forefront,” he said.

“The NRA views this as an opportunity to expand on the work it is already undertaking on behalf of retailers, and work with the government to find a better path to a healthier Australia.

“The expectations in this space are constantly evolving as consumers become more health-conscious, and we’ve seen a growing consumer segment shift value onto their health and embrace wellbeing in many aspects of their lives.

“Meeting these expectations can be a challenge for retailers as they must be strategic in how they meet the health needs of consumers in ways that are also convenient and tasty.”


The National Retail Association represents more than 60,000 stores across Australia. It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for close to 100 years.

For more information, contact the National Retail Association media unit on 0467 792 013.