Child crying over sweets

The Scottish governments wants retailers to ditch confectionery from checkouts.

The Scottish government wants retailers to rid all checkouts of confectionery and to steer price promotions away from HFSS foods.

Outlining a string of Responsibility Deal-style pledges spanning everything from children’s health to price promotions and reformulation in a draft framework shared with retailers and suppliers in recent weeks, the aim is to go above and beyond the UK government’s efforts to tackle Scotland’s obesity epidemic.

“Scotland may benefit from the Responsibility Deal, but our poor dietary status warrants further action,” the draft states.

The pledges

To remove confectionery from tills, aisles and around checkouts

To set a commitment on the proportion of price promotions to support healthy food choices

To help create a healthy eating social marketing campaign focused on low income areas

To commit to new reformulation targets for 2015 across nine product categories

The proposals include the removal of all confectionery from “till points, checkout aisles and areas around checkouts”, an invitation to retailers to commit to a set proportion of price promotions on healthy products, and new ‘meal deals’ to encourage children to make healthier choices.

The Scottish government also tabled reformulation targets across nine product categories. The targets, which are set for 2015 against a 2010 baseline, include a 4% drop in the sugar content of soft drinks and a 10% drop in saturated fat for chocolate confectionery, biscuits and plain cakes.

The SNP plans to discuss the draft with the industry in the coming weeks before firming up the document in the autumn and launching it by the end of the year.

It is understood the businesses will have to sign up to a specific number of pledges to say that they are participating.

The Scottish Food & Drink Federation, which attended an initial engagement meeting with the government in May, said it was “constructive” but “just the first step in the process and primarily designed to take preliminary views on the Scottish government’s draft proposals”.

But one industry source said the Scots were not looking to work as collaboratively as the UK government.

“There is not a lot of time for businesses to get to grips with the proposals,” he said. “My impression is they’re not looking to work in a very collaborative way. I don’t see this document changing fundamentally between now and the end of the year.”

The source also expressed concern the draft didn’t leave much room for manoeuvre for businesses that had already worked hard on the Responsibility Deal and that some of the detail needed to be worked through. On removing confectionery, he said: “Are they just talking about big box retailers? And what constitutes a till aisle? In small stores, there’s not much alternative space.”