Legislation Banning Promotions on food items still going ahead despite objections - Is Your Business Ready?
The next stage of the Government’s tackling obesity strategy remains scheduled to be implemented in October 2022.
This has been confirmed by the Government’s publication of a guidance note on the incoming changes earlier this month, despite speculations that the changes would be delayed to alleviate the soaring rise in food and drink prices.
What changes in the law are next?
Promotions on food and drinks that are high in fat, sugar and salt (“HFSS”) are set to be restricted from October 2022. This is set to target consumers’ favourite money saving opportunities such as ‘buy one get one free’ and ‘3 for 2’ offers.
The location placement of HFSS products will also become regulated so as to prevent retailers from strategically placing the products in locations of prime visibility where consumers pick them up as an unplanned addition to the shopping trolley. This will include store entrances, aisle-ends and checkouts.
The above restrictions will apply to large and medium businesses (with 50+ employees), and failure to conform will result in the issue of notices requiring improvement, which will follow penalty fines of up to £2,500 if not complied with. There are some exemptions to the rules, for example, stores that are small enough, will not be caught by the location restrictions.
The advertisement of HFSS foods will also be regulated, in that TV, radio and paid-for social media ads, and pop-ups will also be prohibited before 9pm. This will apply to companies with over 250+ employees.
Industry not on board
Trade organisation such as the Food and Drink Federation have publicly called out to delay the change in law, and have subsequently criticised the publication of the guidance note this month.
They point out that everyday staple foods such as cereal, yoghurts and ready meals should not be targeted, given the current cost-of-living concerns. They have also expressed serious concern for the businesses affected as the regulations will limit their options of marketing.
A study published by YouGov earlier this year suggests the Government has now reached the boundary of public tolerance on HFSS food regulation, given that only a very slim majority supports the incoming changes.
Kellogg’s is now taking the Government to court on the basis that the new rules fail to take into account the nutritional value of milk, which is added to their cereals, which on their own would be prevented from being prominently displayed in stores because of their high sugar content.
In light of the incoming changes, leading brands have already started innovating their products in order to launch ‘non-HFSS’ foods which will fall outside of the scope of the regulation.
Examples include Walkers crisps that have launched a line with 45% less salt in their leading flavours, Mr Kipling healthier ‘Deliciously Good’ range, and Jacob’s Mini Cheddars with 30% less fat.
Is Your Business Ready?
The published guidance has so far been met with criticism on its inconsistency with the initial draft guidance and drafting notes, and for the failure to answer the many questions submitted by trade bodies following the initial proposal.
It has been reported that 43% of businesses surveyed feel unprepared for the changes, and 20% were unaware altogether.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been criticised for not conducting a formal consultation, but instead carrying out an informal one with trade bodies. This means that businesses that were not part of a trade body, would not have seen the drafts.
It is known that strategic Easter egg displays have now come down for the last time – but there is some confusion on what items may be displayed in its place.
Get in touch
This article was prepared by Olivia Malek.
If you would like further information on this change in the law, or are interested in advice and legal support to help your business comply, please contact Daisy Divoka.