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Call to reduce VAT on fruit juice

A supermarket is calling for VAT on fruit juices to be cut to encourage people to make healthier food choices.

Current VAT laws mean there is zero tax on "essential" items, which include milkshakes and chips, but the government charges 17.5% on fruit juice as it is considered a "luxury item".

Asda is now launching a petition on the Downing Street website urging the ministers to reduce VAT on 100% fruit juices and smoothies to 5%.

Sally Hopson, Asda's director of marketing operations, said: "The Government charges the full rate of tax on healthy fruit juices and smoothies while effectively encouraging people to buy cakes and frozen pizzas by not taxing them at all.

"This is about a commonsense approach to pricing: we all know that we should be eating more fruit and vegetables and we know that price often plays a big part in deciding which items to buy. So why should we pay a premium for making healthier choices?"

But a Treasury spokesman said: "Most fruit and veg are all already VAT free. The Department of Health advises that consumers do not rely on fruit juice for more than one or two of their 'five-a-day'."

He added: "EU VAT laws require all similar products to be treated in the same way. We cannot single out fruit drinks - competing products must have the same VAT."

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