News Children's Food Campaign

Sustain welcomes wide ranging restrictions on junk food promotion announced by Government

Government outlines details of restrictions first announced in summer to promotions of food and drink high in fat salt or sugar in retail. Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign has been calling for such restrictions for years and welcomes the plans.

Credit: Carrie Stebbings

Credit: Carrie Stebbings

Ben Reynolds, Deputy Chief Executive of Sustain commented: 

“Sustain has campaigned for years to restrict promotions of junk food in stores. The Government’s newly announced policy is all about getting businesses to change what they’re promoting, it doesn’t stop promotions per se, and will help, not hinder, people who want to buy healthier food at an affordable price.

“Despite some supermarkets starting to dabble in limiting promotions themselves in recent years after pressure from customers, particularly parents, some junk food has started to slip back in. This Government legislation provides a level playing field for all businesses helping to turn the tide on junk food and help improve children’s diets.”

“The restrictions are reasonable and appropriate to the problem, and target the bulk of products and retailers where junk food is sold in volume, making measured exceptions for things like condiments and small businesses. Put another way, this won’t be affecting the price or promotion of next year’s Christmas dinner.”

Barbara Crowther, Campaign Coordinator, Children’s Food Campaign, commented:

"At a time when the nation's future wellbeing is in the spotlight, it is absolutely right for the Government to put public health before private profits.

“Three in four parents in our survey backed the Government taking action to curb these types of promotions. It is a victory for every parent who has battled wearily against pester power as a result of having to steer children through increasing chicanes of crisps, sweets, fizzy drinks, cakes and biscuits every time they take them shopping or wait in checkout queues. Quite simply, parents told us they preferred to see price deals focussed on healthy food and drink, and shifted away from junk food. It's clear that multi-buy deals only encourage us to spend more money not less, and to consume more, so this is good news for parents, for families and for children's health."

The restrictions will apply to: 

  • multi-buys of HFSS food and drinks in all medium and large retailers (including non-food),franchises and online.
  • pre-packaged HFSS food and drinks largely in line with PHE reformulation categories (i.e. food and drinks that contribute most to children’s excess sugar and calorie intakes)

The restrictions on location promotions will apply to: 

  • medium and large retailers (including non-food) and franchises, with exemptions for specialist retailers and those with under 2k sq ft space.
  • entrances, aisle ends and checkouts plus online equivalent (e.g. suggested items at checkouts)
  • pre-packaged HFSS food and drinks largely in line with PHE reformulation categories (i.e. food and drinks that contribute most to children’s excess sugar and calorie intakes)

There will be an 8 week targeted enforcement consultation launching on 28th where we will be asked for views on wording of definitions plus enforcement and sanctions. The regulation is due to come in by April 2022. Small and micro-businesses are exempt, but these do generally make up and small percentage of volume of goods sold through retail. 

Published Monday 28 December 2020

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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