In mid-2022 we are going to see some big changes to our supermarkets as a result of the government’s new plans to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis.
A crackdown on unhealthy foods
Supermarkets in England are to be barred from displaying unhealthy food and drinks at their checkouts. Volume price restrictions will prohibit retailers from offering promotions such as ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘3 for 2’ offers on HFSS products. HFSS refers to food and drink products that are high in (saturated) fat, salt or sugar, and include: 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 products.
These restrictions will apply to other sales-boosting locations in retail stores such as entrances and promotion ends (the latter have been shown to increase soft drink sales by over 50%).
Similar rules will apply to websites, banning links to unhealthy foods on homepages and checkout pages. In addition, restaurants will no longer be allowed to offer free refills on sugary drinks.
These rules will come into effect from April 2022 and they apply to large retailers who employ 50 people or more. Retailers have known about this new legislation for one year already, and they still have four more months to prepare and shift their promotions over to healthier food and drinks.
One of our biggest health crises
Obesity is one of the biggest health crises our nation faces. 63% of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity and 1 in 3 children leaving primary school are overweight or obese. Illnesses related to obesity cost the NHS £6 billion each year.
A positive step
These measures will be a positive step in helping people make healthier choices when it comes to their diets and lifestyle. The government argues that instead of saving people money, these promotions on healthy food in fact lead to customers buying more. Removing the temptations and replacing them with healthier options will create a better environment that will be crucial in improving the overall health of the nation.
As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, obesity has a negative impact on people’s health outcomes, so the restrictions will hopefully lead to people being more deliberate about what they consume, which will lead to better, healthier lives.
RMS is the leading provider of merchandising and retail support services in the UK and Ireland. We will be supporting our retail partners with this major change from now and throughout 2022. However, considering the current conditions of the employment market, the sooner this work is booked in, the better chance of a successful delivery of this crucial transition to healthier product ranges.