Broad call for scrapping VAT on fruit and vegetables

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The cabinet should not let itself be stopped by a study, which shows that scrapping the VAT rate for fruit and vegetables is encountering all kinds of objections. ‘Make a decision about which products are and are not covered by the law, and introduce them as soon as possible.’ This is stated by representatives of, among others, 13 municipalities, 17 GGDs, Youth Doctors in the Netherlands, the Nutrition in Healthcare Alliance, the Nutrition Alliance for the Healthy Generation, JOGG, Foodwatch and more than 30 doctors, professors and other scientists.


In a letter to the cabinet, the signatories state that a VAT reduction on fruit and vegetables is effective and feasible and that there is a great deal of public support for it. With 91 percent support among the population, the measure is the most popular proposal in the coalition agreement. The signatories are disappointed with the results of the investigation commissioned by the government. According to them, the researchers get stuck with the question of what exactly should be understood by fruit and vegetables. They then dispute whether it is an effective measure, and they point to the loss of VAT revenue. According to the signatories, it has always been a political choice which products fall under which VAT rate. ‘Then it should also be possible to make clear choices when it comes to abolishing VAT on, for example, unprocessed fruit and vegetables,’ they state in the letter.

Well effective

According to the signatories, the concerns about the effectiveness of the measure are also unfounded: ‘Scientists usually like to keep their cool, but in this case there is consensus: price measures on food are effective. For example, a Dutch study in which people received a 50 percent discount on fruit and vegetables for six months showed that this led to a significant increase in the purchases of these healthy food products, while an educational program showed no effects. Studies by the World Health Organization also show that price reductions on healthy products really contribute to their consumption, an effect that increases if this is introduced together with the sugar tax.’

Example from other countries

The signatories call on the government to take an example from countries such as Spain, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, which have recently introduced a VAT reduction on fruit and vegetables without any problems and with good results. According to them, the long-term health gains that these measures will yield translate into more happiness in life, lower healthcare costs for a healthier population, higher labor participation and less disability.

Source: Municipality of Amsterdam

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