No to sugar tax on pure kombucha

Provincial government should differentiate what type of kombucha to tax

Different brands of kombucha. Photo by Rui Yang Xu.
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By Jessica A. Froud

The first time I had kombucha was on a Mohawk reserve in Ontario. It was very sour and tasted like vinegar. The second time I had it was in a nicely labelled bottle that I had purchased from the Langara Students’ Union. It tasted delightful and much less sour. These were two very different drinking experiences. One was pure kombucha and the other had flavouring and sugar.

If the government of B.C. does not note the difference in the process of making kombucha in a pure form versus adding flavouring and whatever sugars may come with that process, it would be ridiculous. It’s the difference of eating a fresh orange versus a chocolate covered orange.

I would hope the government has the time and resources to find a simple solution to differentiating these products and applying the 7 per cent tax to those who fall under sugary, less pure versions of the drink.

Kombucha with added flavouring that increases the sugar amounts drastically should have that information clearly stated on the label. The tax will come into effect on July 1 but there is ambiguity in whether kombucha will be part of it.

Many kombucha companies are small businesses and make small batches, unlike the majority of pop and other sugary carbonated drink makers.

A 7 per cent tax could be a significant hit to these small companies.

If the government makes a black and white argument against kombucha, I think that some companies may change the way they process kombucha to avoid the tax. This might not necessarily be a bad thing, however, the government should take into consideration that the level of sugar in kombucha can drastically change based on flavour, as well as the brand.

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