Legislation

Confectionery industry and retailers prepare for HFSS regulations in UK

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

A ban on prominent promotion in UK stores of confectionery and other 'unhealthy' foods is set to come into force in October 2022. Pic: conveniencestore.co.uk
A ban on prominent promotion in UK stores of confectionery and other 'unhealthy' foods is set to come into force in October 2022. Pic: conveniencestore.co.uk

Related tags: HFSS

New rules governing the placement and promotion of HFSS foods are set to come into force in the UK in October 2022 with popular confectionery and chocolate brands in the firing line.

The UK government’s ban will impose media and promotional restrictions on 'unhealthy' products. Volume promotions, such as buy-one-get-one-free and two-for-one deals, will no longer be allowed for these items, health officials have warned.

According to a report in foodnavigator.com​, a ban will come into force on HFSS products being placed in secondary promotional locations in stores, such as end of aisle displays, store entrances and checkouts. Marketing of HFSS SKUs will no longer be permitted in digital and pre-watershed TV.

To help retailers navigate the new laws, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has launched a new guide​ on the forthcoming regulations with information on:

  • How to work out whether your store will be in scope of the regulations
  • Which areas of the store you can exclude when calculating your relevant floor space
  • Which categories of products are affected
  • Which promotions are restricted
  • How the location restrictions work, and who is included within them
  • How to work out the restricted area at the entrance of the store
  • Which other areas around the store are subject to location restrictions (e.g. around the tills)

According to recent research from Lumina Intelligence, 54% of independent retailers said they have not heard of the HFSS legislation.

ACS chief executive James Lowman told www.conveniencestore.co.uk​ he has warned retailers about the impact of HFSS. “The introduction of HFSS regulations marks one of the biggest operational changes in the grocery retail sector in living memory, so it is absolutely crucial that retailers know what they will have to do ahead of October. Our guidance provides important clarity for retailers dealing with the complexity of the regulations, and provides a blueprint for stores to start work now on how they’re going to adapt their businesses in the coming months.

Chocolate and biscuits

Companies such as Mondelēz International that are exposed to HFSS categories in chocolate and biscuits, could be affected most and according to foodnavigator.com, a recent  report in the UK from the Access to Nutrition Initiative shows 71% of UK sales at 16 of the largest food and beverage manufacturers are generated by unhealthy products.

Six of the 16 companies - Ferrero, Suntory, Mondelēz, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Nestlé – derive 80% or more of their sales from products that score less than 3.5 stars in the Health Star Rating System, the data from Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) showed.

Regarding the confectionery industry,  experts argue that the recent shrinkification trend will not shield brands from the implications of HFSS rules.

Andrew Lazar, a Barclays analyst, said: “A lot of the recent changes made by confectionery manufacturers have been related to reducing pack sizes but this does not help avoid the HFSS rules because the rules do not look at portion sizes and instead look at the nutrient content on the basis of per 100g rather than absolute weight​.”

While reformulation may work in some categories such as cereals Lazar said there are other product types, “such as chocolate bars, where reformulation could struggle to ensure compliance without undermining customer acceptance of the product​.”

The new regulations will only be applied to the UK when they are introduced in the autumn, but more stringent restrictions on HFSS products could be on the international regulatory horizon, foodnavigator.com reported.

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