Trends in beverage prices following the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Barbados.

27 Jul 2017

A 10% excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) was implemented in Barbados in September 2015. A national evaluation has been established to assess the impact of the tax. We present a descriptive analysis of initial price changes following implementation of the SSB tax using price data provided by a major supermarket chain in Barbados over the period 2014-2016. We summarize trends in price changes for SSBs and non-SSBs before and after the tax using year-on-year mean price per liter. We find that prior to the tax, the year-on-year growth of SSB and non-SSB prices was very similar (approximately 1%). During the quarter in which the tax was implemented, the trends diverged, with SSB price growth increasing to 3% and that of non-SSBs decreasing slightly. The growth of SSB prices outpaced non-SSBs prices in each quarter thereafter, reaching 5.9% compared to <1% for non-SSBs. Future analyses will assess the trends in prices of SSBs and non-SSBs over a longer period and will integrate price data from additional sources to assess heterogeneity of post-tax price changes. A continued examination of the impact of the SSB tax in Barbados will expand the evidence base available to policymakers worldwide in considering SSB taxes as a lever for reducing the consumption of added sugar at the population level.