Offers for unhealthy foods that require shoppers to buy more items to take advantage of the discount — such as “buy one get one free” or “3 for 2” promotions — will be prohibited in stores and online. The constraints extend beyond chocolates, soft drinks, sweets and potato chips to pastries, breakfast cereals, pizzas, ready meals and battered products, such as breaded chicken and fish.
Unhealthy promotions will no longer be allowed in “key locations,” such as checkout counters, store entrances and at the end of aisles. Free refills of sugary soft drinks in restaurants will also be banned.
The new measures will ensure that “the healthy choice is the easy choice,” Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said in the statement. “Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation,” she added.
But the Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, said the policy will have “harsh economic impacts” for producers and consumers.
“The proposed restrictions will not only increase the cost of food for families but it will have harsh economic impacts for food and drink manufacturers who are already bracing themselves for the new costs of Brexit and the repercussions of the global pandemic,” Chief Operating Officer Tim Rycroft said in a statement.
The restrictions are the latest attempt by the government to tackle Britain’s rates of obesity, which are among the highest in the world, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“Today’s announcement forms a key part of the government’s strategy to tackle obesity and get the nation fit and healthy,” the Department of Health and Social Care said on Monday, adding that the pandemic has highlighted the impact that obesity can have on people’s health outcomes.
“Promotions often appear to help shoppers save money, however data shows that these deals actually increase purchases of promoted products by almost 20% by encouraging people to buy more than they need or intended to buy in the first place,” it added.