HFSS Regulations – What to expect

29 Jun,2022

Who can resist something a little bit sweet in their shopping basket?

Not us Brits, that’s for sure. According to NHS figures, many of us are eating 700g of the good stuff a week – which has caught the attention of lawmakers.

This is something the UK Government and Food Authorities are rather keen to crack down on, with their sights set on retail stores, internal promotion and placement, and even online locations.

New HFSS regulations will be rolled out across the country, providing rules, guidelines, and, most crucially, restrictions on how convenience retailers promote and place certain foodstuffs in their shops.

How is health regulated in the UK?

New regulations have been introduced as part of an overall Government strategy that aims to ‘tackle obesity’ and get the nation fit and living healthier lives.

The ‘Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021’ outline fresh guidelines against ‘unhealthy products’ and how they are dispensed across the shopfloor. These regulations target certain food and drink that are high in fat, salt, or sugar – classed as ‘HFSS’.

These rules are also set to impact what we consume on television, as restrictions for the advertisement of HFSS products shown before 9pm will come into effect at the end of 2024.

Here at Tactical Solutions, we know that these placement regulations will concern a number of our clients. 

After all, we are industry leaders when it comes to supporting household names and independent retailers with their field marketing solutions, using data-led strategies powered by people to help them get the most out of their in-store presence.

Whether that’s ensuring someone’s next favourite product is visible or ensuring your franchise agreement is being adhered to, using a clip strip as part of refill promotion, or launching a brand new range, these Food regulations 2021 may impact your business model.

It’s a good idea to pay attention to these HFSS rules – which we’ll cover in the detailed guidance below – to see if your marketing strategy may have to change.

But don’t fret. If you’re worried about how HFSS may affect your compliance plans or promotional locations, we can help.

Our team can focus on issues identified from data-fed analysis, which can help you figure out what to do next.

It’s not rocket science – but it’s just as good. Get in touch for a chat with one of our brilliant number-crunchers today.

What are the new HFSS rules – and how will they change the shopping aisle?

So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.

The Government’s plans have a wide scope, first targeting medium and large retailers. These restrictions were initially slated for an earlier date, but following lengthy discussions with industry leaders about enforcement actions, they will now come into play from October 2022.

These rules are set to impact retailers in a number of ways.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Bigger isn’t always better

Restrictions will only apply to medium and large retailers – or any qualifying business with over 50 employees on file. As such, these rules are set to impact the bigger players across the food and drink sector, with the ‘Big 4’ supermarkets (and their online equivalents) already appearing to get their ducks in a row ahead of October.

So, what is an exempt business?

If a business has 50 or more employees and sells HFSS categories of food as a prepacked item – but is a specialist retailer with a floor area of less than 2,000 square feet – they are exempt from location restrictions. However, it’s important to note that these shops are still subject to volume price promotion restrictions, under the law.

  •  ‘BOGOF’ by name, BOGOF by nature

Businesses who come under this umbrella will have to start phasing out their offering of ‘volume promotions’, including the much-loved multibuy promotion in regard to HFSS categories of food. These rules also limit the use of ‘3 for 2’ deals and similar reductions on

Food regulations will be laid in Parliament that will require medium and large businesses, including those with 50 or more employees, to phase out their offering of multibuy promotions such as ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘3 for 2’ offers on HFSS products.

  • Out of sight, out of mind

One of the clearest guidelines provided by the Government is the strict ban regarding HFSS product placement. No HFSS category food or drink can be placed within two metres of a checkout facility, queuing area, or the self-checkout process.

Similar restrictions have been placed on gondola displaces at the end of shopping aisles, special island bin displays, and other easy-to-reach spots that may usually be paired with a multibuy promotion. Store entrances are also unable to display HFSS prepacked product.

As a result, retailers are set to feel the squeeze from food authorities on the way they implement promotions and successful sales cycles in stores across England.

What are HFSS foods?

In short, HFSS foods are seen as foods containing high amounts of salts, sugars, and fats.

Any food for sale that scores four points or higher according to the Government’s Nutrient Profiling Model – first introduced between 2004 and 2005 – will be formally classed under this term. For drinks, the scoring criteria differs: if they rank above one, they are also placed within this category.

Examples include:

  • Some soft drink – especially drinks with added sugar
  • Confectionary, crisps and other snack items
  • Sweet biscuits and pastries
  • Ready meals, such as pizza, and other frozen products like chicken nuggets
  • Battered products, such as fish fingers
  • Some ready-to-eat cereals
  • Desserts, such as ice cream and ice lollies, sponge puddings
  • Potato products, such as chips and potato croquettes, plus novelty potato shapes like smiley faces

What happens if a store commits an offence under regulation?

As with many regulations, there are penalties if you do not comply. According to the draft Food Regulations 2021, you may be subject to a monetary fine if a shop or retailer is found in breach of the outlined rules – following a notice warning them to improve.

At present, there are no restrictions being placed on the creators and manufacturers of HFSS-classified foodstuffs, but the impact this legislation is set to have on shops will ripple across the industry.

Working with Tactical Solutions

To find out how our team of award-winning data scientists can help you streamline your strategy – in line with upcoming policies or regulations – get in touch today.