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What is next for HFSS regulation?

LONDON, UK / AGILITYPR.NEWS / November 22, 2022 / The 1st of October has come and gone. The placement of HFSS products within shops is now restricted. Consumers will no longer be seeing them at checkouts, store entrances or aisle ends. Two more phases of the regulatory rollout are yet to come – promotions and advertising of HFSS products – but we still do not have sight of the Government’s future strategy when it comes to obesity and within that, HFSS.

With Liz Truss at the helm, there were indications that the Government would be reviewing the obesity strategy, but we have yet to hear about Rishi Sunak’s plan on this, and time is ticking. Our research into the topic, however, shows a clear consensus – the public has a strong appetite for brands to help them make healthier choices when it comes to food and indeed, have a responsibility to do so.

But, with the rising cost of living on everyone’s mind, consumers are making choices about cost – not health – first. More than half of the public have noticed their spending on food and grocery shopping increase, 12% are skipping meals as they try to cope with rising prices, and more than a third say that they choose to buy HFSS products because they are more affordable than other options. In light of this near-universal concern for costs, there is strong agreement (75%) that the most helpful way for food and drinks brands to make people healthier is to make healthy products more affordable.

The public is broadly dubious about how much impact HFSS legislation will have in its current guise. Only 16% believe that no longer advertising or promoting HFSS products will be helpful, and seven in 10 think there are better things brands could do to help them be healthier than no longer advertising and promoting HFSS products. Instead, the public would prefer to see brands reformulate their products to be healthier, make healthier options more affordable and educate people to make healthier decisions when it comes to the food and drink they consume.

A fresh take on the issue is needed, that is focused less on restrictions and more on the products themselves. While we don’t know what Sunak has in store for HFSS strategy, it is clear that brands will need to ensure affordability, clarity and innovation are at the heart of their approach. 

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About BritainThinks

BritainThinks is an international insight and strategy consultancy. We deliver attitudinal and behavioural insight to help our clients improve policy, delivery and communication using traditional and innovative methodologies. We put the people that matter most to your organisation at the heart of your thinking. BritainThinks won MRS Agency of the year in 2020, is an employee owned business and certified B-Corp company. 


Caitlin Murphy

Marketing and Communications Manager


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Phone: +44 (0)20 7845 5880