Aldi has become the latest UK supermarket to ditch checkout confectionery in favor of healthier items.
Aldi boss: Healthier tills more popular than candy ones
Aldi had trialled healthier tills, stocking dried fruit, nuts, juices and water, for 16 weeks at selected stores from February to June this year.
“It quickly showed that healthier foods prove more popular with our shoppers than the traditional checkout offer of confectionery and sweets,” said Giles Hurley, joint managing director of corporate buying at Aldi.
Ofcom’s health criteria
From January 2015, only non-confectionery products that meet the Office of Communications (Ofcom’s) health criteria will be sold in Aldi’s checkout zone.
Unhealthy foods under Ofcom’s Nutrient Profiling Model (available here ) include confectionery, potato chips including low-fat versions and cookies.
Healthy foods include takeaway salads with no dressing or croutons, fresh fruits and most nuts.
Traffic light provisos
Aldi will only stock foods at checkouts scoring red or amber on front of pack traffic light labelling if nutrients are naturally occurring. But products with more than one red light will not be displayed.
Aldi is signed up to the UK’s voluntary front-of-pack traffic light labeling. The system was adopted by Mars and Nestlé but rejected by Mondelēz. The European Commission is investigating whether the UK system is incompatible with EU law.
Products at Aldi checkouts must also meet the UK government’s Responsibility Deal salt targets.
Aldi told us its private label chewing gum (6 pack) and Wrigley Extra Chewing Gum will remain at the tills. Sugar free gum from Wrigley survived an earlier confectionery checkout purge at Lidl.
Most major UK supermarkets have now removed confectionery from their tills. Marks & Spencer, Asda and Morrisons are the only big supermarkets still to stock confectionery at cash counters. However, Sainsbury’s still sells confectionery at cash registers in its smaller stores.
Pressure from health bodies
The UK confectionery cull followed ‘a Junk Free Checkouts‘ campaign, led by the British Dietetic Association’s and the Children’s Food Campaign.
Retailers in other regions are coming under pressure to remove confectionery from checkout zones. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently launched a campaign calling on US retailers to remove candy at cash counters.
In New Zealand, a study of 2,271 Kiwi consumers by HorizonPoll found that 34.1% believed supermarkets should remove confectionery and sugary goods from all checkout lanes. 17.7% disagreed, but the majority was indifferent.
Obesity and the death of checkouts
A 2012 article in the New England Journal of Medicine said that candy near cash registers created an obesity risk and should be banned.
But it could all soon be a moot point. Dan O’ Connor, president and CEO of insight and advisory firm RetailNet Group recently said that emerging technology could spell the death of the checkout as we know it.
He said the payment areas for increasingly-used scan & go technology were merchandise free and further advances in technology could even eliminate the need for such areas.