Heavier Restrictions on HFSS Promotions Planned in Wales and Scotland.
As most of our FMCG clients will be aware by now, the UK government have recently made the decision to partially postpone the planned restrictions surrounding HFSS foods advertisements (that were due to come into effect next month) by at least a year in the face of a cost-of-living crisis.
To recap on the legislation that was planned to come into force in October 2023, restrictions on volume pricing promotions such as ‘buy one get one free’ were to be implemented but are now being delayed until 2023. In saying that, restrictions on the placement of foods high in fat, sugar and/or sodium within supermarkets, such as near checkouts or on the end of isle spaces as well as their online equivalents (plus other areas), will still be implemented on the 1st October this year.
The restrictions on televised HFSS adverts before 9pm and paid-for online adverts that were due to start in January 2023 have also now been postponed by a year.
Although the legislation was issued by the UK government, the devolved nations also have the power to impose their own laws on the issue of HFSS advertisement, and both the Scottish and the Welsh governments have recently launched their consultations regarding such restrictions.
With the Welsh consultation finishing at the beginning of this month and the Scottish government’s consultation due to end in a number of days (23rd September 2022), We’re here to highlight for you the key difference and similarities to the UK government legislation that we are all so familiar with now.
Unlike the UK government’s plans for England, the Scottish and Welsh governments intend to include restrictions on temporary price reductions on HFSS products as well as meal deals, which are currently outside the scope of the UK governments legislation for the UK. This could have a major impact on retailers who are not able to implement regional changes to their sales practices and they may have to implement a nation-wide approach.
However, similarly to the UK governments’ plans for England, the same placement restrictions will apply at physical premises and online to pre-packaged food and drinks that fall within their definition of HFSS produce. Both governments plan to use the Food Standards Agency’s Nutrient Profiling Model (as used in England) so the definition of an HFSS product should not differ across the UK.
With regard to takeaway, or ‘out of home’ foods, the Welsh consultation proposes that calorie labelling must be evident at the point of sale, regardless of size of the product or whether the purchase was made in-person or online. The Scottish government has already consulted on this matter, which can be found here.
The planned exemptions in Wales and Scotland made for businesses based on size and available selling space largely mirror that of the approach taken in England.
What does this mean for running prize promotions across the UK?
The placement of prize promotions on-pack remains largely unaffected, but what this does still mean is that the placement of promotional POS in-store needs to be carefully considered across all UK nations in order to avoid breaching any of the laws for each country.
This planned divergence in HFSS restrictions across the UK will make it a tricky area for retailers and businesses to navigate, but what it is likely to mean is that a “strictest rules apply” approach will be taken when differences cannot be accounted for on a national level.
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