In Chapter 2 of their Childhood Obesity Plan, the Government proposed restrictions on price promotions (e.g. 2 for 1, 15% extra free) and location promotions (i.e. products placed in prominent areas of supermarkets, such as entrances and by checkouts) on unhealthy products. Evidence shows that healthy food can be up to three times more expensive than unhealthy food and so this measure would allow healthier products to be promoted, giving them centre stage in supermarkets and helping families access healthier products.
The Government recommitted to these restrictions in their Tackling Obesity strategy and in May 2021, the Queen’s Speech (where Government announce their legislative priorities for the coming year) revealed that the Government would go ahead with price and location promotion restrictions on some food and drinks categories in 2022.
See our input to Government’s consultations on the proposed promotion restrictions:
- Restricting promotions of food and drink that is high in fat, sugar and salt
- Restricting promotions of products high in fat, salt and sugar: enforcement
Would this ban all unhealthy products from being put on price and/or location promotion?
- No. The proposals only cover the following categories:
- Non-alcoholic soft drinks with added sugar
- Crisps and other savoury snacks
- Breakfast cereals
- Confectionery including chocolate and sweets
- Ice cream, ice lollies, frozen yogurt
- Sweet biscuits
- Morning goods
- Desserts and puddings
- Potato products
- Meal centres
- Breaded or battered fish/meat/vegetarian alternatives
This omits many unhealthy product categories high in salt, sugar and calories, such as sweet spreads, sauces, savoury pastries (e.g. sausage rolls and quiche), processed meat and cheese. Furthermore, only certain price promotions would be included, such as ‘buy one get one free’, which supermarkets use less frequently. Crucially, the restrictions only apply to retail settings (e.g. supermarkets), meaning that fast food outlets, takeaways and other similar businesses can still promote their unhealthy products.
How could this measure encourage reformulation?
Products would not be allowed to be put on price and/or location promotion if they are classed as HFSS by the Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM). The NPM gives all products an overall score based on the levels of salt, sugar, saturated fat and calories against healthier elements such as fibre, protein and fruit/vegetable content. Products that have more salt, sugar and/or calories compared to the healthier elements would get a higher score and if that score is above a specified threshold then the product cannot be promoted.
This is positive for food companies and health: by simply reducing the less healthy aspects of their products, such as the salt and sugar levels, companies can continue to promote their products. Rather than a ‘ban’, this is actually a policy to encourage reformulation.
Does Action on Salt support this proposal?
- Yes. However, it is just a first step. Ideally, we would like to see only healthy products put on price and location promotion, to encourage reformulation across the board. We hope that this policy will be put in place as promised in 2022 and evaluated to test how effective it is, and then expanded to all unhealthy products too.