Legislation to restrict the placement and promotion of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products is expected to come into effect in Wales in 2025.
Following a consultation on the issue, the new law, which will be introduced in 2024 and will be rolled out across Wales by 2025, will include volume-based promotions, such as multi-buys and restrictions on where products high in fat, sugar or salt can be displayed, such as at the end of aisles.
The legislation will also ban temporary price promotions and impact meal deals, restricting the inclusion of the HFSS-impacted products. A consultation on enforcement measures for this legislation will happen later this year.
Announcing the plans, the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle said: “This legislation will take forward our commitment to improve diets and help prevent obesity in Wales. Whilst similar legislation is also being introduced in England, I am minded to include temporary price reductions and meal deals within our restrictions.
“We will not be banning any product or type of promotion, our aim is to rebalance our food environments towards healthier products, so that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice.”
HFSS location restrictions were introduced in England in October 2022 while promotional restrictions, planned for October 2023, have been delayed until October 2025 due to the cost of living crisis.
Gemma Roberts, co-chair of Obesity Alliance Cymru, said that consumers need to be encouraged to shop more healthily.
“Price promotions are marketing techniques used to drive sales and increase consumption. They are not free gifts and they do not save us money,” she said. “We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and consumers are being bombarded with price promotions which increase spending on the unhealthiest products. Wales needs to shift the balance and support families to make buying fruit and veg easier.”
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Businesses and consumers are already facing significant hardship because of inflation and rising operating costs. This legislation will add further strain on household budgets and inhibit Welsh retailers’ ability to invest in their shops.
“The Welsh Government needs to provide clarity on the details of the new legislation, including how these restrictions will be implemented. We will continue to engage with the Welsh Government and will provide retailers with further updates as and when more information becomes available.”
Sara Jones, head of the Welsh Retail Consortium (WRC), expressed concern over the plans. “With food inflation running at a near 18-year-high, the WRC remains particularly concerned over possible plans to restrict price promotions and to restrict products in meal deals. It would be regressive and irresponsible to put up costs in this manner with no evidence at this time that it would significantly improve public health. Promotions within categories allow retailers and brands to compete to attract customers, improving competition and keeping prices down. Promotions also allow for local suppliers to be achieve consumer attention, helping bolster the performance of the Welsh Food and Drink Industry across UK-wide retailers’ stores. These restrictions will not only impact on consumer choice, price and availability but may hinder the success of the Welsh producers for years to come.”