The UK government has announced plans to clamp down even further on high fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS) products. New legislation will come into effect from October next year and will apply to medium and large retailers across the country. Promotions and in-store placement will be restricted for any products that fit into the HFSS category – which can now include breakfast cereals and yoghurts as well as biscuits and cakes. 

These new changes will create significant disruption for brands and retailers. Find out more about the impact HFSS legislation will have and how you can navigate it effectively.

What are HFSS products?

The government will be using the Nutrient Profiling Model to determine which goods will be restricted, classing any product that scores more than 4 points (or 1 for soft drinks) as HFSS.

The new legislation will affect obvious categories like crisps, pizza, confectionery, and ice cream, but will also focus on products that come under breakfast cereals, potato products, milk-based drinks with added sugar, and ready meals.

What is the new HFSS legislation?

HFSS legislation was originally brought in to combat childhood obesity, with the rules targeted at stopping junk food from being advertised to under 16s. The new restrictions, however, reflect the government’s stance on tackling obesity across the whole population. 

As of October 2022, HFSS products will not be able to be positioned within 2 metres of checkout tills, at the ends of aisles or in island bins at the end of aisles, or near store entrances. Additionally, all price promotions that “encourage overconsumption” such as ‘buy one get one free’ for HFSS goods will also be banned. 

Retailers, coffee shops and take-out restaurants that are larger than 2,000 sqft with more than 50 employees will be expected to comply with the restrictions. Brands will have the responsibility to provide support and information about their HFSS products where needed.

What’s the impact of the new HFSS legislation?

The new rules will undoubtedly cause a major disruption for both retailers and brands. The government estimated that the change will cost retailers and manufacturers up to c£200m per year on lost profits, even before any other costs – such as project adjustment or store refitting – are taken into account.

Promotions for typically unhealthy products generate a lot of sales, with research showing that they significantly increase figures by as much as 50%.

The in-store environment will look vastly different. The majority of price promotions are within the ‘impulse sector’ – encouraging shoppers to make a last-minute purchase. Without the space being taken up by HFSS products, will promotions on healthier ones take over? It certainly leaves room for new brands to occupy the space, or for traditionally unhealthy brands to reformulate or introduce new, healthy ranges.

The photo above taken recently by one of our Shepherds shows the common HFSS displays near the tills in many retailers across the country. We found that 85% of products seen here wouldn’t be allowed on display after April.

Data is key

The new restrictions are coming into force soon, so retailers need to make sure they’re ready and prepared to handle non-compliance. While large retailers may not be too concerned with the fines for not meeting the restrictions, they should definitely be concerned about their reputation. Although it will complicate things for both retailers and brands, the new rules are being put in place for good reason –  to help combat the rising obesity crisis.

Gathering as much data as possible, either through your own teams or using a solution with a nationwide network like Shepper, will help you identify how much you will need to do to ensure compliance and highlight any problems once the restrictions come into effect. 

Shepper is a specialist in data collection, using our network of local people and our powerful tech platform to give you insights into what’s going on in-store. To find out how we can help you navigate the upcoming HFSS restrictions, speak to one of our Advisors today.

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