The monetary impact of grocery tax in Alabama on fruit and vegetable purchases in a variety of demographics
Fruits and vegetables are important to a healthy diet, decreasing risk for chronic disease and reducing obesity. However, consumption of fruits and vegetables is low nationally and in Alabama. A commonly listed barrier to adequate consumption is high cost of these items. In addition to cost, the $0.04 Alabama sales tax increases cost of these items for individuals and households. To determine financial impact of taxes, prices for popular fruit and vegetable items were gathered from 43 retail outlets in the highest and lowest poverty counties of 11 Alabama public health regions. Average prices were computed for items and an average was calculated for all fruits ($0.69) and vegetables ($0.68). This data was used to calculate cost and tax cost for individuals in all age-gender groups set out by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consume adequate servings of fruits and vegetables annually, which varied for by group. This was combined with 2010 US Census for Alabama data to estimate the possible $215,494,732.16 that could be generated if each Alabama citizen purchased adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables annually. The possible fruit or vegetable servings each individual could consume with the amount of money they pay in tax for these goods were also determined. For individuals and households, especially low-income individuals and households, these additional tax costs could serve as a barrier to adequate consumption. Alabama could be the first state to implement a targeted tax reduction to examine the impact of price reduction on fruit and vegetable consumption.