The UK government’s release of the first part of the National Food Strategy looks likely to shake up the food and drink industry at home in the UK and further afield. The report is authored by Leon restaurant co-founder Henry Dimbleby, who previously co-authored the School Food Plan in 2013. The new strategy focuses on battling the high rates of obesity, poverty as well food insecurity. In this brief overview article, we examine what will be the primary impacts to the food and drink industry.
Promotions curbed of foods high in fat, sugar or salt
The report mentions that promotions relating to foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt will be restricted. This fundamentally means that there will be;
“no more unhealthy multi-buy offers, and Percy Pig will no longer reside near the checkout”.
The last point referring to the placement of confectionery and other products near the check-out (online included) will not be allowed. The impact of this measure on the food and drink industry could mean a significant drop in sales of products. Often they are sold as part of a promotion or at a cash register. Shops will be encouraged to provide discounts on healthier food and drink. Therefore, reformulation of products to remove sugar, salt or fat could be the way forward for many brands. Alternatively, new products could emerge to fill the gap that would adhere to the UK governments standards of healthy.
Food advert ban
The advertising of products that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) before 9pm will be banned online as well as on TV. Online advertising of these foods might in fact be banned all together. However, further consultation will be taken before this is progressed further. This decision has been made based on research conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Cancer Research UK. It was found that “Almost half (47.58%) of all food ads shown during September 2019 on ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky1 were advertising HFSS products. This proportion rose to nearly 60% of ads in the 6-9pm slot on those channels, up from 49% in May 2018.”
Alcohol calorie labelling
Currently under consultation, however the report states that the government plans on enforcing calorie labelling on to the alcohol drinks industry. Lower alcohol brands will benefit from this ruling, however wine, beer, liqueur as well as cider that often has a much higher calorie amount will be impacted. This will more than likely result with the drinks industry reformulating their current product line or introducing new low-calorie drinks. The primary driver of this is: “Alcohol consumption has been estimated to account for nearly 10% of the calorie intake of those who drink, with around 3.4 million adults consuming an additional days’ worth of calories each week – totalling an additional two months of food each year.”
Calorie labelling for large restaurant, café and takeaway businesses
The UK government plans on introducing calorie labelling to food that restaurants, cafés and takeaway businesses sell. This will only apply to businesses that have more than 250 employees. Therefore the impact of this will primarily be felt by popular fast food chains. Though many chains such as McDonalds and Subway already have their calories listed on products, the new legislation will require that calories are clearly displayed at the point of purchase, menu and packaging. The drive of this legislation has been the strong growth of takeaways in the last few years. Part one of the strategy is pretty dramatic. No doubt this will change the food and drink business landscape in the UK and elsewhere. Part two of the National Food Strategy will be published in 2021, following the (assumed) exit out of the EU.
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