Government launches consultation to restrict price and placement promotions on less healthy food and drink

Government launches consultation to restrict price and placement promotions on less healthy food and drink

We welcome the long-overdue consultation to restrict promotions on less healthy food and drink by price and place, published today by the Department of Health and Social Care, as part of the ongoing consultations in the Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 2.

The Government announced the second chapter of its Childhood Obesity Plan in late June 2018. This followed the initial plan, published in August 2016 – which received much criticism from campaign groups, who regarded it as weak and ‘watered-down’. Apart from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (more commonly known as the sugar tax) the plan was lacking in any bold action that may actually help to tackle the rising tide of obesity.

Chapter 2 of the plan however contains some promising measures, including a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising on television, stricter controls on online media, restrictions on price promotions and placement of unhealthy food and drink, banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16/18s and much more. It is by no means perfect, but certainly an improvement on the first edition of the plan. They are however all subject to a 12 week consultation period.

Consultations on energy drinks and calorie labelling have been and gone, of which Food Active have both submitted an official response to and shared across the Food Active network. The next consultation to go live is restricting promotions on less healthy food and drink by price and place – although it is going live many months later than anticipated.

The consultation opened on Saturday 12th February and will close on Saturday 6th April, and will be asking a wide range of stakeholders to share their views on the restriction of volume-based promotions, such as 2 for 1, 3 for 2 and buy one get one free offers. The consulation will also seek views on banning unlimited refills of sugar-sweetened beverages and whether promotions should be allowed at promient selling locations in store, such as the checkout (of which many supermarkets already enforce their own ‘junk food free’ checkout policy), end of aisles and store entrances.

Food Active will be preparing a response to the consultation over the next 12 weeks. To inform the response and provide some local evidence, last year we launched a survey across the North West to gather views on price promotions on less healthy food and drink. The findings of this research are currently being analysed and will be shared on the Food Active website in due course.

In addition, we are also holding a North West consultation event on Tuesday 5th February, inviting all local authorities across the Food Active network. The aim of the event will be to share the best possible evidence around and discuss the UK consultation questions to help align responses to the consultation across the region. Speakers include Dan Parker (Living Loud), Caroline Cerny (Obesity Health Alliance), Malcolm Clark (Cancer Research UK) and the event will be chaired by Barbara Crowther (Children’s Food Campaign, Sustain).

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