asda yoghurt aisle

If you passed the dairy drinks aisle on 1 October 2022, it would probably have looked the same as it did many months before.

That’s because most reformulations to comply with HFSS rules were executed well before the enforcement date.

Given the importance of promotions to dairy drinks, most suppliers were keen to duck the restrictions on display locations.

Weetabix On The Go is one such example. Having been hit hard by the decline in on-the-go occasions during Covid, it was keen to ensure the product was HFSS-compliant.

No reformulation was necessary, but it did make one change. Its health credentials were highlighted in its marketing at least 12 months before the rules came into force.

“Our entire range is HFSS-compliant,” says Weetabix On The Go marketing manager Christian Sarginson. “The packaging highlights the drink’s nutritional credentials. So, when it comes to the HFSS regulations, it means we can continue to invest in above-the-line advertising and in-store activations.”

This also plays well with retailers. Natasha Bowes, MD of Biotiful, points out retailers were favouring HFSS-compliant products well before the October deadline arrived.

She believes that preference for healthier products has contributed to a 30% year-on-year uplift in sales of Biotiful products over the past year.

That point is backed up by Maria Ledesma, trade marketing manager UK & Ireland for protein drink brand Barebells. “Even before the launch of the HFSS legislation, we were seeing a higher engagement from retailers across all channels on healthier ranging and positioning.

“At Barebells, a key focus for us has always been taste and our portfolio of HFSS compliant protein-enriched milkshakes were made to taste much more indulgent than their nutritional info suggests,” she points out.

Having seen this transition take place, those suppliers that had been slower to make changes to comply with HFSS rules are now doing so.

Rebel Kitchen, for example, has reformulated its 250ml dairy-free Mylk Shakes to be non-HFSS. These revamped lines will launch this month.

“We see this as vital for the brand because healthier options are a long-term consumer trend,” says MD Adam Draper.

Are health drinks losing their puff? Dairy drinks category report 2023