Leaked Email: Coke is Lying About “Grocery Taxes”

Kyle Pfister
Oct 17, 2016 · 3 min read

On June 9th, 2016 Ben Sheidler, a spokesman in Public Affairs & Communications for the Coca-Cola Company, Coke’s global leadership team with background information and coordinated messages about the Philadelphia soda tax.

— — — — Original message — — — —
From: Ben Sheidler
Date: 6/9/16 6:39 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Matt Echols , Global Pac Leadership Team
Cc: Clyde Tuggle , Karyn Harrington
Subject: RE: Philadelphia Tax Background and Messages

Matt — Please find the attached document providing background on the Philadelphia tax proposal, The Coca-Cola Company’s position on the tax, general background on beverage taxes and a brief Q&A. This document also includes some information about US beverage tax trends and addresses many of the misperceptions people have about these taxes.

Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for this document. We will continue to update it as the situation in Philadelphia develops.




The document Ben attached is called “Philadelphia Beverage Tax Background and The Coca-Cola Company Position”. If you scroll to the bottom of the first page, it contains a section explaining the differences between excise and sales taxes, and which products are affected by each.

As the document explains:

Sales taxes are not “beverage taxes”

- There’s a difference between sales taxes and excise taxes. Many states apply sales taxes to all foods and beverages and is based on a percentage of what you buy. Excise taxes target one specific item and are often a flat rate on top of what you buy.

- The Coca-Cola Company does not oppose sales taxes on our products because they are applied fairly across most other food and beverage items found in grocery stores and restaurants.

Coca-Cola seems to be describing that excise taxes on soda are targeted at that one specific item (soda), not generalized across products as a “grocery tax”. And they go on to say they opposes soda taxes because they are focused only on soda, and not shared broadly over multiple grocery items like a sales tax. They would actually prefer a grocery tax.

You heard that right.

Excise tax= soda tax.

Sales tax = grocery tax.

The taxes being voted on in Oakland, San-Francisco, and Boulder this November are all excise beverages taxes, not grocery taxes. So why do all of Big Soda’s mailers say the soda taxes are grocery taxes?

Anti soda tax mailer in Oakland, CO.
Anti soda tax mailer in Boulder, CO.
Mailers are paid for by Coca-Cola and Pepsi via the American Beverage Association.
Recent “grocery tax” tweet by soda industry campaign in Boulder, CO.
Recent “grocery tax” tweet by soda industry campaign in Oakland, CA.

Looks like Big Soda is lying. .


Leaked Emails from an Unhealthy Industry

Kyle Pfister

Written by

Founder of Ninjas for Health, a public health innovation team. Join the movement at ninjasforhealth.com



Leaked Emails from an Unhealthy Industry