Soda tax may have short-term impact on sugar industry

PETALING JAYA: Central Sugars Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR) said the sugar industry might experience a short-term impact when soda tax is imposed but not in the medium to long term.

Chief executive officer Hishammudin Hasan said the soda tax is part of an overall educational initiative for companies to produce sugar more responsibly.

“The soda tax is nothing new… In Europe, they have soda tax and our government is going to implement it with the aim of getting Malaysians to think about choices, to think about consuming sugar,” he told reporters at the launch of the Better Brown Low Glycaemic Sugar yesterday.

Hishammudin said the company would support the government in promoting a healthy lifestyle and getting Malaysians to think through their choices as the effort synchronised with its values.

“On our sugar pack, we have written (a reminder) about consuming sugar responsibly. So, whatever the government does with the aim of managing sugar consumption, getting Malaysians (to become) more responsible (on what they consume) we are in full support,” he said.

He said the new Better Brown, the first in Malaysia and Asia, is a healthier sweetener product that has a low Glycemic Index (GI).

With a low GI, the sugar will be more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and this leads to a lower and slower rise in blood glucose, thus helping consumers to sustain energy longer and curb hunger cravings.

“Meanwhile, we are always on the look out for technology to refine sugar for healthier Malaysians.

“Not everything is about money, when you manage a business with good intent, balancing it with consumers, and the public, then everything will be good,” said Hishammudin.

He said for now, the company was not thinking of exporting the product, instead it stayed focused on the domestic market so that Malaysians would be able to consume better sugar.

“However, we have plans to export through head agents in other countries. When they have obtained market demand, we will make Malaysia the refining centre for Better Brown,” he said.

On the retail price of RM3.80 per kg for Better Brown, he said the price would not be reduced in the near term, as CSR awaited consumers’ response to the product as it was adequate and has a health cost to it.

“The difference of 30 sen compared to normal brown sugar (RM3.50 per kg) is because of potential health benefits for family consumption,” he said. — Bernama

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