The food industry celebrates “meal occasions”, which are excuses to buy and eat food without necessarily qualifying as a meal in its own right. Irish food manufacturer Glanbia suffered a setback for the VAT status of its flapjacks in April when a tribunal decided that the range did not qualify as a cake and was henceforth to be taxed at 20%.
The case hinged upon the suitability of the chewy confectionery bars for serving at afternoon tea. Cakes qualify for zero-percent VAT and a substantial fruit cake would still be classified as cake even if its mouth feel is distinctly heavier than a Victoria sponge.
Many years ago, the makers of Jaffa Cakes mounted a successful case to argue that as the name implied, their product was eligible for a zero-rated VAT status. A patisserie chef was hired to make an oversize Jaffa Cake and field questions from the tribunal, which accepted the basis for the distinction.
Glanbia, it would appear, was not so fortunate. Members of the panel declared that the flapjacks did not earn a place on the table at teatime because they are too robust. English tea is where you have your cake and eat it.
Here is how The Guardian covered the story: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/apr/17/flapjacks-too-chewy-taxed-cakes-judges-rule-glanbia-milk