UK Ice Cream Purveyor Wants VAT Cut on Reduced Sugar Food

The entrepreneurial founders of healthy-eating ice cream marketer Oppo Brothers Ltd. are pushing a petition in the United Kingdom that calls on the government to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on food with a reduced sugar nutrition claim of 5%. Reductions from the standard 20% rate are typically granted when there is a social benefit for doing so, according to Directors Charlie and Harry Thuillier.

“It's cheaper to buy food which is packed full of sugar than healthy food that’s not. Everyone loves their favorite sweet treats, so consumption of sugary food isn't set to change any time soon. This is contributing to the obesity crisis in the UK, where according to the Office of National Statistics 58% of women and 68% of men are overweight or obese,” said the London-headquartered company’s executives. “Yes, the sugar tax is a step forward. But instead of punishing sugar intake, it would be more effective to incentivize consumption of healthier food by making it cheaper for all of us all to buy.”

The Oppo team hopes to secure at least 10,000 signatures by January. Thereafter the petition will be delivered to Prime Minister Theresa May, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in an effort, as the Thuillier brothers put it, to “help make it cheaper for us all to buy food that contains reduced sugar.”

Oppo replaces sugar and cream in its frozen confectionery with virgin coconut oil and stevia leaf (sweet, natural, zero calorie) and boosts each flavor with Baobab and Lucuma to make healthy-eating yet indulgent ice cream minus artificial flavorings and additives.

Oppo ice cream tubs

Here’s the flavor line-up of its sweet treats, which serve up only 40 calories per scoop, complete with marketing slogans:

  • Madagascan Vanilla and Baobab (Feed like an elephant. Feel like a feather). Vanilla pods from Madagascar are combined with the subtle, grapefruit-like tang of South African baobab to create a thick, buttery, indulgent ice cream. Remedial properties of baobab are promoted as “the stuff of African legend.” Sourced from the fruit of trees that are said to live for as long as 3,000 years, the exotic ingredient is infused with Madagascan vanilla.
  • Oppo 300Mint Choc Swirl with Spirulina (Eat like a hippo. Feel like a hummingbird). Billed as “your childhood favorite, adult-style,” the deep-green minty sweet creamy ice cream features a thick cacao (raw chocolate) swirl and an indulgent boost of peppermint. Commonly used in health food supplements, Spirulina is a blue-green plant harvested from the South China Sea. It is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • Salted Caramel and Lucuma (Eat like a whale. Feel like a mermaid). Peruvian Lucuma is described as nature’s caramel, with golden flesh and a rich and creamy texture that serves up sweet and smooth. Known as “Gold of the Incas,” it is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. The fruit is air-dried before being combined with Maldon sea salt to create a salted caramel flavor.

Available at more than 1,000 retail outlets throughout the UK and via the Ocado.com e-commerce site, the suggested retail price for each 500ml offering is £5.49. When the products were launched in October of 2014, they were especially targeted at “30-something urban professional consumers who don’t want to compromise on health or indulgence.”

The idea for Oppo was born during an expedition the Thuillier brothers took in Brazil, when they traveled 1,000 kilometers along the coast by kite buggy, frequently having to drag the vehicles by hand when the wind died down.

oppo heart“We ran out of supplies so started eating wild coconuts and the local açaí berry, which are delicious and nutritious,” said Harry. “This sparked a love for using natural ingredients to make gorgeous food, and a mission to prove you don’t have to sacrifice health for something to taste really indulgent.”

More information about the petition campaign is available by visiting www.dontaxhealthy.org or www.change.org.