Chocolate Industry

Confectionery industry and retailers brace for UK HFSS regulations

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 offers, will no longer be allowed for these items, health officials have warned.

According to a report on foodnavigator.com, a ban will come into effect for HFSS products 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 allowed in digital and pre-watershed TV.

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

  • How to determine if your store will be in scope of the regulations
  • Which areas of the store you can exclude when calculating your relevant floor space
  • Which product categories are affected
  • Which promotions are limited
  • How location restrictions work and who is included
  • How to determine the restricted area at the entrance to the store
  • What other areas around the store have location restrictions (e.g. around checkouts)

According to a recent study by Lumina Intelligence, 54% of independent retailers said they had not heard of HFSS legislation.

ACS chief executive James Lowman told www.conveniencestore.co.uk he has warned retailers of the impact of HFSS. “The introduction of HFSS regulations marks one of the biggest operational changes in the retail grocery sector in living memory, so it is absolutely crucial that retailers know what they will need to do before October. Our guidance provides important clarity for retailers facing regulatory complexity and provides a blueprint for stores to start working now on how they will adapt their business in the months ahead.

Chocolate and cookies

Companies such as Mondelēz International, which are exposed to HFSS categories in chocolate and biscuits, could be the most affected and according to foodnavigator.com, a recent report in the UK from the Access to Nutrition Initiative shows that 71% of UK sales to 16 of the biggest food and drink 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, Initiative data shows. access to nutrition (ATNI) showed.

When it comes to the confectionery industry, experts say the recent downsizing trend won’t shield brands from the implications of HFSS rules.

Andrew Lazar, a Barclays analyst, said: “Many of the recent changes made by confectionery manufacturers have been related to reducing package sizes, but this does not help avoiding HFSS rules as the rules do not consider portion size and instead look nutrient content based on 100 g rather than absolute weight​.”

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

The new regulations will only be enforced in the UK when they are introduced in the fall, but tighter restrictions on HFSS products could be on the international regulatory horizon, foodnavigator.com reported.