The retailer removed confections from checkouts at large stores in the UK in 1994, but has now extended the ban to Tesco Metro and Express convenience stores.
Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative have a 'no sweets' policy at checkouts in large stores in the UK but the bans do not apply to smaller stores.
"Our customers told us that removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts would help them make healthier choices, so from today our checkouts will be sweet- and chocolate-free zones,” said David Wood, managing director of health and wellness for Tesco.
Earlier research from the supermarket found 65% of its customers said removing confectionery from checkouts would help them make healthier choices.
Lidl and Aldi removed confectionery from till zones in the UK last year, but Morrisons, Asda and M&S continue to stock sweets at checkouts.
Criteria for checkout items
Tesco has replaced candy and chocolate at tills with snacks including dried fruit, nuts and cereal bars. Every item must be either one of a person’s five a day, have no ‘red’ traffic light ratings, be in calorie-controlled snack packs, or be deemed by the Department of Health (DoH) to be a ‘healthier snack’.
A Tesco spokesperson told ConfectioneryNews that the new location for confectionery would be decided on an individual store basis. “The only rule is that it’s not the checkout…There isn’t a radius – it’s defined as the area where you queue up.”
‘A marketing decision’
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO, said: "Popping into a shop with a small child in tow can sometimes feel like navigating an assault course. If you've made it to the checkout in one piece it can be really frustrating to then be faced with an unhealthy array of sweets designed to tempt your child. It's really positive to see a supermarket responding to the views of their customers and trying to make life that little bit easier."
A spokesperson for the Association of Chocolate, Biscuits and Confectionery Industries of Europe (CAOBISCO) said Tesco’s announcement was a “marketing decision made by the retailer”. It refused to state its position on confectionery checkout bans, but said it wasn’t aware of similar movements in other European countries.
Pressure from health campaigners
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 (CSPI) 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.