UPDATE: Philadelphia’s Soda Tax Falls Short of Projected Goals

BY SALVATORE MAZZONE

Philadelphia’s soda tax, which was implemented earlier this year, was touted by its supporters as a revenue-boosting sin tax, the proceeds of which would be used to fund much-needed programs in underprivileged communities.

Mayor Jim Kenney made universal pre-k a hallmark of his mayoral campaign. Sugary drinks, which are now taxed by the city at 1.5 cents per ounce, have proved not to be quite the revenue booster the city had expected.

Citing a study by market research firm Catalina, CNBC reports that the revenue generated by the soda tax is estimated at $39.3 million through the end of June. Fifteen percent lower than the original projection of $46 million. Sales of carbonated soft drinks have also fallen by 55% citywide.

Joseph Viola, owner, and proprietor of Millie’s Burgers and Shakes in South Philadelphia and junior at Temple’s Fox School of Business says he’s seen no decline in sales.

“We’ve had to raise the prices on our soda’s,” Viola said, “But we haven’t seen a drop in sales”.

Viola attributes this to the fact that his store offers delivery and that customers are willing to pay the extra cost for convenience.

The soda tax has had a noticeable effect on the prices of many of the food vendors on Temple’s campus, specifically on meals that include a drink. Some owners have signs on their food trucks explaining that the soda tax is the reason for rising prices.

It remains unclear what will come next from the soda tax.