Wales to restrict multibuy deals on HFSS foods
The new law, which will be introduced in 2024 and will be rolled out across Wales by 2025, builds on a Government commitment to improve diets by restricting the ways foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) can be promoted.
This will include volume-based promotions, such as multi-buys and restrictions on where HFSS products can be displayed, such as at the end of aisles. Also intended to be included will be temporary price promotions and meal deals. Whilst this would not ban meal deals or other types of promotion it would restrict the inclusion of the “unhealthiest” products.
In a statement about the policy, Welsh Government said that HFSS foods tend to be more heavily promoted and given higher prominence in stores. This encourages unplanned impulse buys, with people buying, consuming and spending more on food than they intended.
Over 60% of adults in Wales are above a healthy weight, and over a quarter of children are overweight or obese by the time they start school. This can have a significant effect on people’s health, with levels of obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes at record levels in Wales.
Public Health Wales recent Time To Talk Public Health survey showed strong public support for Government action to make our food healthier, with 57% of people agreed that Governments should use financial tools like taxes to reduce HFSS foods and 84% of respondents said they intend to take action within the next 12 months to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
While the legislation will not apply to all HFSS products, it will target the food and drinks that “contribute most to obesity.”
Government said that it hoped these measures will encourage the food and retail industry to consider how healthier options can be made more available and affordable, so that no-one is priced out of a healthy diet. This could include providing more promotions on healthier food or reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of products that currently fall under the restrictions.
To make it easier for the food industry to operate across borders, products which fall under the new legislation will aim to align with the same products included within England’s legislation. Welsh Government will also work closely with the food industry to provide guidance and support them to reformulate products to reduce levels of fat, sugar or salt.
A consultation on enforcement measures will be taken forward later this year.
An important part of the jigsaw
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.
“This is an important part of the jigsaw as part of our Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales strategy as part of a multi-component approach. Our next generation deserve a different ‘normal’ where healthier foods are more available, affordable and appealing, and HFSS foods are not a core part of our diet. Our current and future generations deserve better.”