Government announces HFSS delays

Date : 10 June 2022

Lucy Ingram

Retail Analyst

The government has announced revised dates for some HFSS restrictions.

What has changed?

There have been two major changes to the timelines of implementing HFSS policies:

  1. Restrictions on volume price promotions e.g., BOGOF have been postponed by one year, until October 2023
  2. The restrictions banning HFSS adverts on TV before 9 pm and paid-for adverts online will also be paused for a year, meaning they come into force in January 2024

What remains the same?

Location restrictions preventing HFSS items from being shown in front of store, on gondola ends, at checkouts, and online equivalents will still come into force in October 2022.

Why has it changed?

The government has made the changes due to the current cost-of-living crisis, and the pressure on families to afford food.

What does this mean for the industry?

The has been significant concern within the industry that at a time when businesses are trying to navigate the cost-of-living crisis and the cost of doing business, there is not enough time to prepare for the changes. The delays will therefore be very welcome by many manufacturers and suppliers. However, many believe that the government should go further and delay all restrictions as they will have a huge financial impact on retailers, particularly smaller stores.

Despite this, the changes have not been met positively by everyone. Health campaigners are concerned that the full restrictions may never come into force. This cynicism is clearly warranted. The government spokesperson has said that a HFSS ad ban will not be the most effective route to encourage people to eat healthier, and therefore this gives them time to look at alternative solutions.

What is our view?

Although the changes to the dates of implementation are seen positively by many, challenges remain. The new timings are unlikely to lead to more buy-in from businesses, many of whom have felt confused and frustrated by the restrictions.

The industry is facing an incredibly difficult time, and it is difficult to see how much that will really change in a year. Those that are not ready now, are not likely to be more ready in October 2023. And, with inflation forecast to remain high, shoppers are likely to remain under pressure. With the war in Ukraine also in people’s minds, low shopper confidence is likely to persist.

Retailers and suppliers need to find a way to help support shoppers to make healthier choices but relying on HFSS to do this is not the answer.

Retail Analysis subscribers looking for more information on how they can do this should check out our help shoppers make healthy choices report.

Looking for more insight on HFSS?

Check out our deck which summarises guidance for businesses following regulations being passed to limit the promotion of HFSS food and drinks.

See five things we can learn from the latest HFSS store layout trials.

For those subscribed to Retail Analysis we’ve summarised the potential impact of HFSS legislation on the online channel.