Press Clips: Philadelphia Soda Tax Sparks Massive Sales Decline

Philly Soda Tax Sparks Massive Sales Decline as City Doubles Projected Revenue

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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Thursday that the city’s controversial “Soda Tax” on sugar-sweetened and diet beverage sales raised $5.7 million in its first month since going into effect in January, more than double the city’s predictions.

But not everyone is celebrating the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax. Earlier this week, Philadelphia supermarkets and beverage distributors reported a 30 to 50 percent decline in beverage sales, and Philly.com reports that some distributors have announced layoffs as a result. Canada Dry Delaware Valley, which distributes 20 percent of the city’s soft drinks, told the website sales were down 45 percent and it would lay off 20 percent of its staff, or about 35 jobs, in March.

But city officials are standing by the tax, accusing the soda industry of fear mongering to prevent other cities from adopting similar measures.

“I didn’t think it was possible for the soda industry to be any greedier,” Mayor Kenney said in an emailed statement. “They are so committed to stopping this tax from spreading to other cities, that they are not only passing the tax they should be paying onto their customer, they are actually willing to threaten working men and women’s jobs rather than marginally reduce their seven figure bonuses.”

Indeed, other cities across the U.S. are weighing similar taxes. On Tuesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported that a 2 cent-per-ounce tax in Santa Fe, New Mexico had cleared its first committee. A similar tax in Seattle, Washington is also picking up steam.

Outside of the U.S., the New York Times reported Wednesday that soda sales continued to slow in the second year of Mexico’s soda tax. A study published in Health Affairs showed soft drink sales fell by 5.5 percent in 2014, and fell again by 9.7 percent in 2015.

Pressed Juicery Announces New Massachusetts Location

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California-based cold-pressed juice bar Pressed Juicery will open its third Boston-area location in Harvard Square in Cambridge later this spring, according to The Harvard Crimson.

“There’s no question that Harvard Square is an integral part of Cambridge, and we’re very excited about the mix of like-minded businesses and overall accessibility and visibility in this location,” Pressed Juicery CEO Hayden Slater said in an emailed statement. “We’re excited to add a healthy, convenient and affordable option for busy commuters, students and everyone in between.”

Pressed Juicery would be the second specialty juice shop to open in the high-foot traffic Harvard Square, following Liquiteria, which opened in 2015.

Study Accidentally Doses Students with Caffeine Equivalent of 300 Cups of Coffee

Caffeine is a mainstay ingredient of the beverage industry, but even an extra energy drink or a third cup of coffee a day can raise health concerns.

But two students participating in a Northumbria University study in Newcastle, England found out just how serious a caffeine overdose can be after being accidentally given a 30 gram dose — the equivalent of 300 cups of coffee, or 150 5-hour Energy shots.

According to Vice, the mix-up happened after somebody at the lab made an error when entering the dosage count into their phone. The students were supposed to each receive a dose of 0.3 grams of caffeine, the amount found in about three cups of coffee.

Both students were admitted into intensive care and placed on dialysis. One student reported short-term memory loss.

Northumbria University apologized in court and was fined £400,000 for the error.