Making HFSS products ‘less visible’ could tackle obesity, research reveals

Almost two thirds (61%) of consumers say making high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) products less visible in stores would directly influence their purchasing decisions, according to the latest consumer survey from GS1 UK.

The research sets the tone for new rules banning HFSS products from aisle-ends and checkouts which will come into force in October 2022 (other restrictions have been pushed back to next year).

Many consumers are looking for healthier alternatives with 41% more likely to eat reformulated products with a reduced HFSS content.

However, while 68% of more than 2,000 consumers surveyed agreed with a need for legislation that could combat obesity, more than half (53%) admitted they would miss BOGOF deals on HFSS products.

In February of this year, the government announced a ban on unhealthy food promotions in supermarkets, however due to the cost-of-living crisis, this legislation has been delayed until October 2023, hindering health campaigners aims in tackling obesity.

READ MORE: Opinion: how retailers can work with the upcoming HFSS restrictions

Following earlier research by GS1 UK – which discovered that one in five retail businesses were unaware of the new HFSS restrictions  – the global standards organisation partnered with retailers including Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s to agree a solution that will make complying with the HFSS legislation easier and more efficient for suppliers.

In the first six weeks following the launch of the solution on GS1 UK’s productDNA platform, over 26,000 products were uploaded, meaning retailers were able to manage and share their HFSS product data.

“Our research not only proves that consumers want to make healthier choices, it also shows that the retail industry has the power to support them in making them,” GS1 UK CMO and membership director Sarah Atkins said.

“Despite continued uncertainty surrounding HFSS, we have seen unprecedented levels of collaboration since the legislation was first announced.”

“By coming together, industry has made incredible progress in creating, capturing, and sharing accurate product data that will enable businesses to respond to changing legislative and consumer demands, both now and in the future.”

The news comes as Tesco chairman John Allan has criticised Boris Johnson and his government for reversing upcoming HFSS policy.

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