ACS calls for consistent approach to HFSS regulations across UK

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has responded to the Welsh Government consultation on introducing restrictions on high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products highlighting the impact on retailers and need for a consistent regulatory approach across the UK.

The consultation looks at HFSS products in terms of placement, promotions and defining what products are impacted. The Welsh Government’s proposals are similar to those being introduced in England on HFSS products, but there are some key differences:

1. The Welsh Government is proposing to restrict ‘temporary price reductions’ of HFSS products and meal deals including HFSS products.
2. The Welsh Government is proposing to restrict the siting of HFSS products on ‘free standing display units’ in addition to at store entrances, at the tills, and at the end of aisles.
3. The Welsh Government is seeking views on how to define HFSS products, via differing nutrient profiling models.

In its submission ACS has called for the Welsh Government to ensure that the regulations are fully aligned with those being introduced in England to ensure consistency, reduce the burden on businesses across the food supply chain and avoid confusion amongst retailers.

In regards to the restrictions on the placement of HFSS products, ACS has called for an exemption for small shops under 280sqm (3,000sqft), including shops operating under a symbol group brand.

ACS chief executive James Lowman (pictured) said, “We know from our members that customers are watching every penny at the moment in light of the cost of living crisis, and if the Welsh Government decides to proceed with these regulations we would urge them to restrict temporary price reductions or meals deals from the definition of value promotions as these help customers to save money, manage their budget and feed their families.

“Retailers are facing huge cost increases through energy bill and rising labour costs, the last thing they need is another bill for relaying their stores in order to move products two metres away.”

There are currently no set timescales for the introduction of the proposals after the consultation period, but Wales’ overall health strategy states that ‘by 2030’ measures will be in place. The consultations were launched as part of the Welsh Government’s ten-year plan, Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales.