Looking Forward To An Easier Food World In 2021?

The Lempert Report
January 04, 2021

Not in the UK

The UK government wants to move ahead with plans to restrict how supermarkets sell and advertise chocolate, soda and other foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat as part of a wider push to tackle obesity according to CNN Business. The food and drink industries are up in arms and has warned of "devastating" results for consumers and businesses if the legislation becomes the rule of law.

The new rules will apply to all food retailers in England with more than 50 employees and are scheduled to start in April 2022, according to the Department of Health and Social Care. Stores smaller than 2,000 square feet and specialty retailers, such as chocolatiers and sweet shops, will be exempt from some of the restrictions.

Promotion offers on unhealthy foods that require shoppers to buy more items to take advantage of the discount — such as "buy one get one free" or "3 for 2" promotions — will be prohibited in stores and online. The constraints extend beyond chocolates, soft drinks, sweets to include potato chips, pastries, breakfast cereals, pizzas, ready to eat prepared meals and breaded chicken and fish.

Unhealthy promotions will no longer be allowed in "key locations," such as checkout counters, store entrances and at the end of aisles. Free refills of sugary soft drinks in restaurants will also be banned. Public Health Minister Jo Churchill stated that the new measures will ensure that "the healthy choice is the easy choice.Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation."

The Food and Drink Federation, the equivalent of our Consumer Brands Association feels quite differently and said the policy will have "harsh economic impacts" for producers and consumers. Chief Operating Officer Tim Rycroft said "The proposed restrictions will not only increase the cost of food for families but it will have harsh economic impacts for food and drink manufacturers who are already bracing themselves for the new costs of Brexit and the repercussions of the global pandemic."  The restrictions are the latest attempt by the government to tackle Britain's rates of obesity, which are among the highest in the world, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Britain introduced restrictions on television advertising to children of unhealthy foods in 2007 and implemented a tax on sugary soft drinks in 2018. Earlier this year it launched a new campaign to address obesity, which includes proposals to require restaurants to add calorie labels to menu items. Almost two thirds of adults in England are overweight and one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese, according to the government, which said obesity-related illnesses cost the National Health Service £6 billion ($8.1 billion) a year.

Here’s the reality – if nothing else has been learned during the pandemic=c is that its time to be transparent, tell the truth, help each other and for these lobbyists and trade groups to understand that the shopper comes first. In order to get the maximum sales from them, they must be alive and well – otherwise there will be no profit. If our food industry continues to shovel additional salt, sugar and fat into our diets – science has shown us our lifetime will be shortened. Topline – no customers – no profits. Wake up, We applaud the move in the UK and can only hope that here in the US we will take similar steps to help our citizens live long, healthy lives.