Retailers have welcomed the government’s plan to ban junk food from schools.

The move was announced by Education Secretary Ruth Kelly, who confirmed that as well as banning junk food from school meals, vending machines in schools will not be allowed to sell chocolates, crisps or fizzy drinks. United Co-operatives launched its first ‘breakfast club’ offering fresh fruit and breakfast cereals to local schoolchildren in Merseyside earlier this year.

A spokeswoman for the society said: “Eating a healthy meal provides a good start to the day, and we hope this new initiative by the government will compliment what we are doing through our clubs.”

The announcement from Kelly also coincides with a “back to school” promotion by Nisa-Today’s across its fresh fruit and vegetables ranges. Nisa-Today’s Nisachill trading controller Andrew Hirst commented: “It is still the responsibility of parents and authorities to reduce the amounts of unhealthy food eaten by children and this new law will set a precedent. Retailers can support this law by making healthy snacking products readily available and have a good selection of fresh fruit on offer.”

Independent retailer Wendy Lanigan runs Lanigan’s in Aintree, Merseyside, which is located near three schools. She said: “One school, which is practically on our doorstep, holds 1,400 pupils, and the majority who come into the store seem to be more than aware of what is healthy to eat. We do a good business in water and low fat products, especially to the girls, but we also sell a lot of snacks. You can’t be what I would call a “nanny retailer” - you have to stock something for everyone. We might see a slight drop in low-fat product sales but we may also see a rise in snacks when this law comes in.”