Will new HFSS rules go forward as planned?

17 February 2022, 07:58 AM
  • Reports reveal the ban on junk food ads could be pushed back. Meanwhile, a majority of indie retailers haven’t heard of the legislation
Will new HFSS rules go forward as planned?

The introduction of a ban on high fat, sugar and salt food (HFSS) promotions could be delayed after health secretary Sajid Javid was given powers to push the deadline back. 

It came after The Grocer reported a proposal put forward in the House of Lords to push the ban back by a year was defeated. The Lords did, however, back an amendment which allows the health secretary to postpone the start date of 1st January 2023 if needed. Despite this, Sajid Javid recently told The Times the Government was “absolutely committed” to banning junk food promotions.

SMEs need more information
While health campaigners have urged the Government to proceed with the 2023 date for its 9pm watershed and ban on buy one, get one free deals on unhealthy food, Rachel Hewlett, sales business development at ShelfNow, an intelligent B2B online marketplace, said small businesses would welcome the delay. 

“The delay of HFSS regulations will ensure that SMEs, including those we work with, have more time to prepare for the changes,” she said. 

Small producers in particular would be hit hard if the rules aren’t clear up front. “It’s critical that more information is shared soon about what the criteria are for products that will be included in the ban. For independent brands, it takes a lot of advanced planning, and the investment in advertisement budgets can have a significant impact on their bottom line, especially if the rules aren’t laid out clearly and the plans are changed at the last minute,” Rachel warned. “Speaking with the producers we work with, the lack of information and enough time to allow for thorough planning has been a cause of concern for brands.”

Retailers call for extension
While the rules on HFSS promotions are slated to take effect in 2023, the clock is ticking even faster for retailers. New requirements around product placing and multibuys of HFSS food will come into force in October 2022, but the Government has yet to announce more detail on which products will be classed as HFSS foods.

A report from Lumina Intelligence revealed the challenges facing independent retailers, as over half say they haven’t heard of the upcoming bans on junk food promotion. The report revealed 44% of retailers and 54% of independent retailers weren’t familiar with the legislation.

But indies aren’t the only ones – 87% of top UK supermarkets called for an extension of up to six months or more on the new HFSS legislation. A survey by AI nutrition company Spoon Guru revealed that a quarter of respondents working in the top 11 supermarkets feel they are uninformed about what the HFSS legislation will entail, and two-thirds think the current delay to enforcing the rules should be increased.

“We understand why the government has delayed the enforcement of this legislation,” said Johanna Bolinder, head of health and sustainability at Spoon Guru. “The HFSS changes undoubtedly carry several bureaucratic hallmarks in that this is very complex legislation which many people are struggling to understand and implement.”

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