Fast-moving consumer goods merchants are opposed to the proposed sugar tax the government wants to introduce to tackle obesity.
Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) chief executive Gwarega Mangozhe said: "The tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and other foodstuffs will not be an effective way of tackling obesity."
He said the industry would help in the battle against the bulge by encouraging consumers to make better food and nonalcoholic beverage choices to promote health.
"The industry will achieve this by making available better-for-you food and nonalcoholic beverage options, improve the marketing of such options, while restricting advertising to children of food and nonalcoholic beverages that do not meet specific nutrition criteria," Mangozhe said.
He said the sector has established the Healthy Food Options Forum to partner with the Department of Health in developing and driving healthy food options with measurable targets over the period from 2016 to 2020.
According to Mangozhe, the CGCSA, the representative body for more than 11000 companies in the retail, wholesale and manufacture of consumer goods, is willing to engage with the National Treasury on the proposed sugar tax.
"We would like to share with the National Treasury our concerns about the need for informed decision-making in the interests of a shared commitment of promoting healthy living while ensuring the industry's contribution to continued investment and job creation," said Mangozhe.
Tiger Brands spokeswoman Nevashnee Naicker said the "health and wellbeing of our consumers is always at the forefront" for the company. "While we support all efforts by government to augment the health of the population, we are nonetheless concerned about the potential loss of jobs, and the impact this could have on the South African economy.
"We are also interested in how the industry can continue to partner with government to introduce initiatives that will result in systemic changes that positively contribute to the reduction in obesity," she said.
Tiger Brands products include Oros, Energade, All Gold jam, Jelly Tots and other sweets.
The deadline for public submissions on the sugar tax, announced some weeks ago, falls today.