The Welsh government on Tuesday announced that it will introduce new legislation to restrict the placement and price promotion of products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS).
The new law, which will be introduced in 2024, will be rolled out across Wales by 2025.
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, the government 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,” Lynne Neagle, the deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, said.
“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.”
The government said a recent survey by Public Health Wales showed strong public support for the move, with 57 per cent of people agreeing that governments should use financial tools like taxes to reduce sugar in foods with high levels and 84 per cent of respondents saying they intend to take action within the next 12 months to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
Whilst the legislation will not apply to all high fat, sugar and salt products, it will target food and drinks that contribute most to obesity, the government said, adding that the products which fall under the new legislation will aim to align with the same products included within England’s legislation, to make it easier for the food industry to operate across borders.
However, the announcement did not address the types of businesses impacted within the legislation or the extent of restrictions of products in shops.
ACS chief executive James Lowman urged the government to provide clarity on the details of the new legislation.
“Businesses and consumers are already facing significant hardship because of inflation and rising operating costs. This legislation will add further strain on household budgets and inhibit Welsh retailers’ ability to invest in their shops,” Lowman said.
“The Welsh Government needs to provide clarity on the details of the new legislation, including how these restrictions will be implemented. We will continue to engage with the Welsh government and will provide retailers with further updates as and when more information becomes available.”
Evidence is still being considered on other proposals consulted on at the same time, including evidence in out of home settings, such as calorie labelling and on ending the sale of energy drinks to children under 16.
A consultation on enforcement measures will be taken forward later this year.
The UK government has recently delayed until October 2025 the restrictions on volume promotions of HFSS products in England that were due to come into force in October this year. The restriction of HFSS products by location came into force in October last year.
The Scottish government, has meanwhile, announced a new consultation on ‘direct and efficient’ route to HFSS restrictions.