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Business of Food

Fat, sugar and salt in food and drinks down year on year since HFSS law implementation

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long
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The first month of the UK Government’s controversial HFSS legislation has coincided with less sugar, salt and saturated fat in food and drink products, according to Kantar.

Compared with the same period last year, Kantar Worldpanel data shows sugar volume was down 8% in the categories targeted by HFSS legislation in October 2022. Similarly, saturated fats and salt were down 6.4% and 5.7% respectively.

Kantar says pudding was the category where the drop in sugar, salt and saturated fat was most evident. The amount of sugar sold through the puddings category was down 11.9% year on year. Saturated fats and salts in puddings were down 12.7% and 8.8% respectively.

While the law is still in its infancy, Sally Ball, Head of Kantar Worldpanel’s Nutrition Service, said overall sugar and fat volumes across HFSS categories were declining faster than across the wider grocery market.

This suggests that the laws could be having the desired effect among manufacturers, who are investing more money into reformulation for products affected by the new laws.

Restrictions on the sale and promotion of food products high in sugar, salt, and fat came into effect on 1 October 2022. Among the new rules was legislation restricting the placement of HFSS foods within supermarkets – products are no longer permitted in highly visible areas, such as at the ends of aisles or near checkouts.

Owing to the cost of living crisis, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson halted the implementation of some of the rules which had been planned for the new legislation – including a ban on multi-buy deals for HFSS products. This is now scheduled to come into effect next year.

Despite the promising data, Ball said it was still too early to say for certain if the HFSS legislation is working. “There is certainly a change in this first month of data with the new legislation in place, but it’s a little early to predict when, or if, things will level out,” she said.

The main reason to reserve judgement on the efficacy of the new laws this early is because there has been a generally steady decline in the amount of sugar, salt, and saturated fats in HFSS food and drink products over several years, according to Kantar data.

“There has generally been a steady decline in this area,” Ball explained. However, she added, “but the introduction of new and newly formulated products to accommodate the legislation is still being absorbed by shoppers and retailers,” suggesting there is a growing appetite for such products.

HFSS reformulation doesn’t have to compromise taste and flavour. Learn from the experts how to innovate in this field with this on-demand Masterclass:

How to innovate within HFSS restrictions

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