The push by Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens) to abolish VAT on healthy food is supported by social associations, consumer protection groups and farmers’ representatives. “Given an inflation rate of 8.6 per cent, the federal government must not hesitate any longer and should take Spain as a model,” Verena Bentele, President of the social association VdK, told the newspapers of the Essen-based Funke Mediengruppe. Bentele said that a law to this effect is “overdue” in Germany, and it would help “disproportionately those with small pensions and low earners”.
Tax reduction as an incentive for healthier eating
“A healthy and sustainable diet must not be a question of the wallet,” emphasised consumer protectionist Christiane Seidel. The abolition of VAT on fresh fruit, vegetables, and pulses is an important contribution to relieving the burden. An incentive for a more sustainable and healthier diet would be set, explained the food expert of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations. She called the instrument “very effective and implementable in the short term”.
The German Farmers’ Association also calls for all food to be exempt from VAT. “A suspension of VAT on food can help to relieve consumers,” said the association’s deputy secretary general, Udo Hemmerling. “From our perspective, all food should be reduced in Germany.”
Other EU countries are one step further
The government in Spain recently temporarily suspended VAT on basic foodstuffs such as fruit, vegetables, bread and milk. According to Agriculture Minister Özdemir, Germany should follow suit. “I have great sympathy for setting VAT on fruit, vegetables and pulses at zero,” the Green politician affirmed last summer.
The Federal Ministry of Finance under Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) rejects Özdemir’s proposal. A spokesperson said there were no plans to change the current system.