Junk-food-promo laws tougher for Welsh shops

The Welsh divergence comes less than a month after Scotland backtracked on its own plans for differing HFSS restrictions

HFSS High fat salt and sugar foods

Stores in Wales face the prospect of much tougher junk-food-promotions restrictions than the rest of the UK, the Welsh government has revealed. 

Announcing the nation’s plans for its own high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) restrictions last week, deputy minister for mental health and well-being Lynne Neagle said a law would be passed in 2024 and rolled out in Wales by 2025. 

While the year coincides with the delayed start of Westminster’s own HFSS restrictions in England, the comments by Neagle suggest significant differences. England’s scheme will only restrict volume price promotions (such as 30% extra free, or ‘buy one, get one free’) for products deemed to be unhealthy. 

However, Wales indicated temporary price promotions and meal deals containing unhealthy lines were also in the firing line. 

The differences would complicate the sandwich, snack and drink lunch offers common to convenience stores, and would force symbol groups to drop many of the most popular products in their promotions cycles. 

“While similar legislation is also being introduced in England, I am minded to include temporary price reductions and meal deals within our restrictions,” said Neagle. 

The Welsh divergence comes less than a month after Scotland backtracked on its own plans for differing HFSS restrictions. 

Members in the Fed’s Wales district discussed the HFSS plans earlier this week. Wales president Vince Malone told Better Retailing: “In principle, we’re behind it. The country is overweight, and we need to fix this. However, we need clarity on the detail and we need fairness. Stores on the border should not be at a disadvantage as to what they can offer. 

“Similarly, the idea of a kid being unable to by a sandwich, chocolate bar and a drink at a discount, but being free to buy a large burger, fries and cola from McDonald’s as a meal is not acceptable. 

“Like other groups, we want a UK-wide HFSS plan and want to avoid the moveable feast of policy changes that we’ve seen in areas such as Scotland’s deposit return scheme.” 

Asked if he believed the policy would have the desired effect, Malone told RN: “Price doesn’t seem to encourage healthier habits. After the sugar tax, those buying full-sugar Coca-Cola are still buying full-sugar Coca-Cola. 

“Even now, a banana and a bottle of water is under £1 in my store, so the cheaper, healthier options are already there. 

“What we can do to make a real change is to influence people’s habits early.” 

Malone supplies more than 100 students at a local school with a piece of fruit a day, and backed efforts to introduce more fresh fruit and vegetables into local shops. 

Read more HFSS news and advice for retailers


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