Seed Stacked – and the VAT man...


Chris Thompson suffered from severe Crohn's disease and in an attempt to find a food which would deliver the nutrients that he needed without any of the allergens which set off his Crohn's he devised a cereal bar from seeds and honey – and called it Seed Stacked.

Chris's bar was really delicious and in due course he perusaded Asda to stock it – as a result of which he has now sold over 350,000 bars.

There is just one problem. The VAT authorities think that Chris's bar is confectionery rather than 'food', or indeed 'healthy food', so insist that he has to add a further 15% (soon to be 17.5%) VAT to the price.

Chris thought that this was such a ridiculous state of affairs that he took the VAT man to court. Logically, healthy foods or health-promoting foods, such as Chris' bar, should be zero rated in order to promote the government's various (and extremely expensive) health initiatives. But the VAT man does not have a category for 'healthy food'.

So Chris' only alternative was to try to get re-rated as a cake because a cake, no matter how un-healthy its ingredients may be, classes as a food and is therefore zero rated for VAT. But, said the court, if he was to be re-rated as a cake, he would need to add cake-type ingredients (butter, sugar, golden syrup) to his bar. As long as it remained just seeds and honey it could not be rated as a cake so would have to remain a confectionery bar, alongside Mars, or Twix or KitKat....

If you wish to support Chris' campaign to get this absurdity righted click here.


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First Published in October 2009