Nearly 90% of UK’s biggest supermarkets want a further extension on the implementation of the HFSS legislation

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland

87% of UK retailers say they need more time and support in advance of the Government’s new laws coming into play, which restrict where shops can sell high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods and instore promotions, a new survey by AI nutrition tech company Spoon Guru highlights.

The survey, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Spoon Guru in September this year, brings together the answers of 11 major supermarkets in the country.

The results show that 61% of respondents think the HFSS laws should not be introduced until at least another seven months on from the current deadline.

While the new rules on the sales of HFSS food were due to be enforced in April of next year, they have now been moved to come into force in October 2022.

Between now and next year, supermarkets are being expected to examine the brands they have on sale as well as some of their own-label products to ensure they reduce the amount of HFSS food and drink brands available to consumers.

According to Gov.uk, major retailers are also being expected to get rid of ‘buy one get one free’ and ‘3 for 2’ promotions for HFSS goods.

Offers on HFSS food and drinks will also be removed from checkouts and entrances to shops, as well as aisle ends and online checkouts.

The full details on the which products might come under the HFSS classification however are still to be revealed.

Assistant Director for food at the British Retail Consortium, Andrea Martinez-Inchausti said:
“The new regulations are complex, wide reaching and many fundamental questions remain unanswered.

“While retailers are working hard to prepare, it is vital that all provisions are clear, and a reasonable timeframe is given for extensive and significant work to be carried out.

“The current proposed deadline of October 2022 must be reconsidered as it is only ten months away and many areas remain unclear. Retailers will strive to undertake any required changes, but this tight timeframe will add considerable cost and burden.”

The survey shows that 18% of respondents from supermarkets said they were unsure of how to begin planning ahead of the HFSS legislation coming into force.

60% of respondents did agree however that they had a role to play in offering healthier products to consumers by following the new rule.

46% of respondents said they thought that the Government should help retailers to make sure they are ready for the HFSS legislation when it comes into play.

The survey also reveals that 41% of respondents see better technology as being key to helping them follow HFSS legislation in the future.

Sharon Bligh, Healthier Lives Director at The Consumer Goods Forum, said: “The new HFSS regulations are designed to help shoppers make informed, healthy choices, but it’s essential we work collaboratively as an industry, and across sectors, to help them achieve maximum impact, and utilise available technology and communications methods to avoid creating further confusion for all involved.”

Spoon Guru launched their online food recommendation platform back in 2020, to help retailers and staff provide consumers with healthier food recommendations. The service allows for the storing and sharing of HFSS levels between supermarket head offices and stores, making it easier to comply with the new rules.

Co-Founder, Spoon Guru Markus Stripf, commented: “The retail industry is being transformed by technology, and it’s imperative we use new abilities and platforms to help consumers make informed choices about their health, as well as improving our own infrastructure.”  

The HFSS regulations will affect medium to large-scale retailers with 50 or more employees and are part of the Government’s aim to reduce obesity levels across the country.

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