The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed plans to introduce promotional and location restrictions on high fat, salt and sugar products in stores.
In regulations and guidance published today (21st July), DHSC has confirmed that the measures will be introduced in October 2022, giving retailers just 15 months to prepare and adapt their businesses. The rules were initially proposed to come into force in April 2022.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The extension to the timeframes ahead of implementation is welcome, but it’s still not a lot of time to make significant changes to stores when retailers are rightly still focusing on keeping colleagues and customers safe during a pandemic. We urge the Government to look again at the implementation dates and put in place a more sensible timeline to allow retailers to prepare.”
The measures confirmed today are part of the Government’s wider Obesity Strategy, which includes a range of measures aimed at encouraging adults to change their purchasing behaviour, diet and lifestyle. Specific proposals aimed at retailers include:
- Restricting where in a store HFSS products can be located, so that retailers would not be able to put these products:
- Within two metres of a checkout area
- Within two metres of a designated queueing area
- In an end of aisle display
- At the entrance to the store
- Restricting volume promotions such as multibuys and ‘buy one get one’ promotions for products deemed to be in scope of the high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) regulations
The regulations do not apply to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. However, the proposals treat symbol group retailers as larger businesses so they are in scope of the regulations. All stores below 2,000 sq ft, regardless of ownership, are exempt from the location restrictions in the regulations.
Mr Lowman continued: “Forcing shops to change their store layouts is an extreme measure that cannot achieve significant public health gains given that the convenience store sector accounts for less than a quarter of the grocery market. This is another significant burden on small shops, and there’s a growing sense that the government are throwing every idea and policy intervention at the problem without a clear idea of what will be effective.”
“Local shops have a responsibility and an opportunity to offer customers and communities and informed choice. We have already made great strides in the provision of healthy food in local shops through engaging in the Healthy Start programme and through investment in produce, chilled and fresh food.”
The Government has also today published details of its enforcement activity of retailers when it comes to compliance with HFSS product restrictions. In incidents of non-compliance, an ‘improvement notice’ will be issued, which if not followed, can result in a fine. ACS is currently working with its Primary Authority partner Surrey and Bucks Trading Standards on providing Assured Advice around the detail of the regulations, especially around how stores estimate the relevant floor space of their business.