An examination of Ireland’s sugar sweetened beverage tax (sugar tax) in practice

Type Article

Journal Article


Houghton F, Moran Stritch J, Nwanze L.

Year of publication



J Public Health (Oxf)








Background: In the face of rising obesity levels, Ireland introduced a sugar sweetened beverage tax (SSBT) in 2018, the scope of which was extended in 2019. To date, there is a dearth of research on the actual impact of the SSBT on the pricing. Method: This study involved an examination of the relative cost of leading brand full-sugar and sugar-free carbonated soft drinks in a convenience sample of 14 different Irish supermarkets. In light of manufacturers' reformulation of certain brands (7UP, Sprite and Fanta), information was collected on the relative in-store pricing of three brands (Coca Cola, Pepsi and Club). Results: In-store comparisons of equivalent size and unit number indicate that, in ~60% of cases, the full-sugar and sugar-free versions of the same drink are being offered at the same price. Even when full-sugar versions of these brands were more expensive than the sugar-free alternatives, the price differential was sometimes less than the SSBT rate. Conclusions: The pass-through rate of the SSBT to consumers is sub-optimal. Future policy and research suggestions are outlined.