Promotions on food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) in retailers will be restricted from April 2022
- Offers like ‘buy one get one free’ and promotions for unhealthy food and drink in prominent locations in stores and online to be restricted from April 2022
- Free refills of sugary soft drinks will also be prohibited in the eating-out sector
- Restrictions will apply to medium and large stores
The new rules, designed to support the nation to make healthier choices, will prohibit retailers from offering multibuy promotions such as ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘3 for 2’ offers on these products.
Unhealthy promotions will also no longer be featured in key locations, such as at checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.
Promotions often appear to help shoppers save money. However, data shows that these deals actually increase purchases of promoted products by almost 20%. They encourage people to buy more than they need or intended to buy in the first place.
Free refills of sugary soft drinks will also be prohibited in the eating-out sector.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Action on Sugar says:
“Finally, Downing Street is acting decisively with a bold first step to restrict the sale of junk food on multi-buy offers and at checkouts, and taking on one of the biggest threats to Britain’s future health – childhood obesity.
This important policy, specifically targeting the most sugar-laden food and drinks packed with excessive calories, will provide a level playing field for responsible retailers, enabling them to promote healthier options to families.
To bypass the restrictions and improve our health further, manufacturers have the opportunity to reformulate their less healthy products into healthier versions over the next two years when the Government, which has already bowed to industry lobbying and watered down their own Childhood Obesity Plan, has promised the restrictions will come into force.
Putting junk food multi-buy offers in the aisles and at the checkouts is just another way of food companies sneaking their unhealthy products into your basket. Now is the time for healthier food to take centre stage.
Having obesity is strongly linked to susceptibility, severity and worse outcomes for Covid-19, so we urge all food manufacturers to stop bombarding adults and children with promotions and adverts for junk food immediately and commit to helping make our nation healthier right now – during its’ time of great need.”
An 8-week technical consultation has launched today on GOV.UK to seek views from industry stakeholders and enforcement bodies on how these policies can be implemented.
The restrictions on promotions are:
- Location restrictions at store entrances, aisle ends and checkouts and their online equivalents (homepages, landing pages for other food categories, and shopping basket or payment pages)
- Volume price restrictions will prohibit retailers from offering promotions such as ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘3 for 2’ offers on HFSS products
- Free refills of sugary soft drinks will be prohibited in the eating-out sector
- The location restrictions will only apply to stores over 2,000 square feet - specialist retailers, such as chocolate shops, are exempt from the location restrictions
- Prepacked food and drink in the following categories will be restricted if they are considered HFSS: soft drinks, cakes, chocolate confectionery, sugar confectionery, ice cream, morning goods (for example, pastries), puddings, sweet biscuits, breakfast cereals, yogurts, milk-based drinks with added sugar, juice-based drinks with added sugar, pizza, ready meals, meal centres, including breaded and battered products, crisps and savoury snacks, chips and similar potato product
- The 2004 to 2005 Nutrient Profiling Model will be used to define whether a product is HFSS.
The policy focuses on the products that are significant contributors to sugar and calorie intakes in children and that are heavily promoted. Only those products that are HFSS will be restricted, so there is scope for businesses to promote healthier products within these categories.