A clampdown on HFSS promotions due to start this weekend is to go ahead, despite speculation that Liz Truss was to row back on the plans at the eleventh hour.

The government today laid down a statutory instrument in parliament to underpin the ban on HFSS promotions in prominent locations, which has seen retailers spend millions on new store layouts.

The measures also confirmed an October 2023 start date for a ban on multibuy locations, including bogofs, seemingly confirming plans announced under Boris Johnson in May.

However, campaign groups were muted in their reaction, admitting they feared ministers could still reverse the plans. Meanwhile, there has been no confirmation over plans for a crackdown on junk food advertising, which had also been delayed for a year.

It emerged earlier this month the Treasury had launched a sweeping review into the government’s obesity strategy amid fears over the impact on the cost of living.

There had been reports the HFSS plans could have been scrapped this week, with suppliers having pressed the government to pull the plans, despite supermarket bosses warning of the huge investment they had made in new HFSS-compliant layouts.

“Today’s announcement means that the ban on location promotions that is due to come in on Saturday does go ahead and whilst we would have liked both sets of promotions to have been outlawed at the same time, that is good news considering the reports,” said Barbara Crowther, director of the Children’s Health Campaign.

“There has obviously been a huge pushback from the industry but there is still huge support from the British public, and nobody believes that the government will tackle the cost of living crisis by getting rid of a junk food watershed and bans on bogofs.”

Malcolm Clark, policy manager at Cancer Research UK, said it wasn’t certain the government would go ahead with its entire strategy, but said it was good news for the obesity strategy that this weekend’s landmark moves would come in as proposed.

“We are back to May 2022 when Boris Johnson made his announcement of delays to bogofs and the advertising plans,” he said.

“This is obviously much better than the worst-case scenario which we’d been led to believe, but originally we had been hoping that both sets of HFSS restrictions would be implemented on 1 October so it’s not the best case either.

“We have also seen with this government that it only takes a few lines in parliament to reverse major strategies so we will have to remain on our guard and keep the pressure on government.

“It’s possible that with everything else going on the government just didn’t have the headspace for anything else.”

FDF CEO Karen Betts said: “The implementation of the delay to the ban on volume promotions is welcome news, including for hard-pressed shoppers at a time of rapid food price inflation.

“Our industry looks forward to continuing to work with government to help tackle obesity and poor diets. Food and drink businesses know we play a critical role in this, and we have worked hard over many years to redevelop the recipes of our products to make them healthier while retaining their delicious flavours. This has included work to help people choose appropriate portion sizes. We know how valuable good health is to everyone, and we’re committed to continuing with this and other work to help people eat well whatever their lifestyle.”

The latest twist comes after Labour said it would support a Tory row-back on the HFSS promotions clampdown.

Speaking at the Labour conference, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said it would be “tin-eared” of Labour to support measures which would put up food prices in the middle of the cost of living crisis.

A leading supermarket source added: “The plans could still be scrapped at some point. My understanding is the review of everything including advertising and promotions is still happening but there is no clarity on when decisions might be made.”

However, while bodies including the FDF have been strongly urging the government to bin the proposals, others welcomed the news.

“Retailers have already spent hundreds of millions of pounds changing stores to comply with new HFSS legislation and are ready and prepared for its implementation from Saturday,” said BRC director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie.

“They remain understandably concerned by ongoing reports that it could be scrapped and would like clarity that the money they have spent has not been wasted at a time when their primary focus is holding down the cost of food for their customers. Supermarkets are keen to work with government to make a real difference in tackling obesity but this requires a coherent and comprehensive strategy that is targeted and avoids unnecessary costs.”

ACS CEO James Lowman said: “Local shops have sunk huge sums of money in refitting their stores to comply with these regulations when their businesses are already under pressure from rising energy bills and increased products costs. Retailers have been frustrated by the government’s rushed approached to policy development and indecision about implementation dates.”

A supplier source added: “If I was Tesco I would have been absolutely raging if the government had pulled the rug at the last minute. It would have been a huge waste of money and time.”