Nearly half of UK businesses are not prepared for HFSS legislation reveals new report

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland

Research conducted by GS1 shows that around 50% of British retailers aren’t ready for the implementation of new HFSS legislation being introduced from 1 October this year.

The new laws will remove food and drink that is high in salt, sugar and fat, from clearly visible in-store locations, and will get rid of promotional deals for these products such as buy-one-get-one-free.

Digital advertising and marketing of such goods will also be restricted from January 2023 onwards in a bid to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis, which has led to one in three children between the ages of 10 and 11 being overweight.

Around 30% of businesses said they had examined their products in time for the deadline in October, according to the report.

Approximately 70% of businesses said they did not know about the ban on in-store volume promotions, while 20% worringly reported they were not aware of the new HFSS legislation at all.

The report also revealed that only 33% of retailers were preparing their staff for working with the new laws, and only 35% were auditing suppliers.

Around two thirds of businesses said they felt they needed more financial help from the Government to prepare them for future changes to operations as a result of HFSS.

With regards to consumers, just over half said they would not be as likely to purchase HFSS goods if they weren’t as visible in store, while 25% said they would not be as likely to buy these products if they weren’t discounted.

Sixty-six percent of retailers and 68% of consumers said they saw the need for reducing unhealthy eating in the UK.

Professor Tim Lang, Professor Emeritus of Food Policy at City University of London’s Centre for Food Policy said: “It’s worrying to see that businesses across the food and drink industry do not feel prepared for the upcoming changes in legislation. Whilst the changes will no doubt affect how countless businesses operate, the new legislation is a crucial step toward solving issues around public health. It is however, encouraging to see support for the introduction of the new rules amongst both the industry and the general public.”

Sonia Pombo, Campaign Manager for Action on Salt commented: “Placing restrictions on unhealthy food promotions in-store is one way of helping to transform our food system and save lives. Rebalancing the cost of producing healthier vs less healthy foods will drive further innovation and recipe improvements, to build a healthier, more equitable nation. The food industry should fully understand their influence and direct responsibility.”

In light of the findings recorded in this report, GS1 has announced a partnership with UK retailers through a new HFSS solutions branch on the company’s productDNA platform.

The free digital service intends to offer producers and manufacturers a common space to share quality product data, allowing them to keep track of how close they are to successfully complying with the new leglisation.

The platform is currently used by 75% of British grocers including Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, and Waitrose and Partners.

Anne Godfrey, CEO of GS1, said: “The HFSS legislation represents a seismic shift for businesses across the UK and many of our 57,000 members will be affected. Whilst our research reveals that businesses and consumers are aligned on the benefits the changes can bring, the findings show there is much more to be done if the sentiment of the legislation is to become a reality.

“Many businesses feel overwhelmed with the challenges they have faced over the last two years, but there is no doubt that the industry, now more than ever, needs to take a standardised approach for the collection of quality data if they are to adapt quickly and confidently to new legislation and growing consumer demand.”

A recent study conducted by Action on Salt revealed that around 70% of snacks available through high-street meal deal promotions still contain dangerous levels of salts, sugars, and fats.

Still convinced the new HFSS regulations are all doom and gloom? Discover the opportunities the new legislation could bring for your brand in our Masterclass with Andy Wardlaw, Susannah Croucher, Debargha Ganguly and Paul Sheldrake:

How to innovate within HFSS restrictions

On-Demand Masterclass

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