While beginning to take hold in West Europe, the sugar tax on soft drinks was still very much in its infancy in the US in 2016.
At the beginning of last year, Berkeley, California was the only city to have implemented the tax, but throughout 2016 six more jurisdictions either voted democratically or had city officials approve taxes on sugary drinks.
After Trump’s shock win, 2017 could see the emergency brakes applied to further legislation.
While Barack Obama’s presidency saw a keen emphasis on healthy living, Trump shows no signs of treating this as a priority, so any momentum for the sugar tax will need to be generated on a more local level, where city jurisdiction decides whether to implement the taxation or not.
However the new administration, and the new direction it will take, has potential to embolden the American Beverage Association (ABA), which fought hard in 2016 to protect the companies most affected by what it believes to be an ineffective and unfair tax.
Trump’s victory provided a strong boost to the organisation, as from its circle of friends and supporters the ABA can boast a route towards the president himself.
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As part of his presidential transition team, Trump has recruited Michael Torrey, a lobbyist at the head of a firm that works with the ABA to promote their interests in DC.
Despite Trump’s campaign rhetoric to ‘Drain the Swamp’ and clear Washington from the corrupting influence of big business and lobbying, he has surrounded his team with those who would look to capitalise on the opportunity to put their business interests direct to the Republican controlled Congress.
The long term effects on the beverage industry in the US are markedly unclear.
With the strong potential for economic upheaval, currency fluctuations will occur for most markets linked to the USA due to the widespread influence of the US dollar, and this could harm imports to the USA, especially from more exposed countries such as Mexico.
Yet, as a positive, Trump made his position clear that he would be a strong supporter of American business and industry, and therefore the domestic beverage market may see strong benefits from a more inward looking administration.
What this tells us is unfortunately more assumption and conjecture, rather than cold hard facts, but in a fitting tribute to the beginning of Donald Trump’s reign as US president, we have little of the latter.