HFSS food & drinks

HFSS food & drinks

Tesco and Sainsbury’s will not be moved by the government u-turn on its HFSS clampdown and will continue to steer clear of multibuy promotions, both retailers have said.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak announced over the weekend the government had backtracked on one of the main planks of its obesity strategy, saying the public had a “right to choose” what food they eat, after taking the axe to plans for a ban on multibuy deals.

The move, which comes amid rising concern over food inflation, has been welcomed by food industry trade bodies, including the FDF and the BRC, which have been lobbying for the ban to be axed.

However, Tesco said as part of its plans to make diets more healthy it would continue with its voluntary ban, which was introduced when the government delayed the original plans for a bogof clampdown in October last year.

Sunak said the plans would now not be brought in until at least October 2025 – though campaign groups fear they will be ditched altogether, along with the also-delayed plans for a junk food ad watershed and restrictions online.

“Our mission is to make Tesco the easiest place to shop for a healthy, more sustainable basket, while keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check,” said Tesco group chief product officer Ashwin Prasad.

“We know that customers want to eat a more healthy, sustainable diet, but without having to stretch the weekly shopping budget, and we are really proud to be leading the way in maintaining our commitment.

“Tesco will continue to offer great value on products across the entire store, so customers won’t have to purchase more food than they need to access great value.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman confirmed it too would continue to ban mutibuys, having become the first supermarket to voluntarily stop them in 2016.

While not going as far as bannig bogofs, Waitrose said it would continue to phase them out, as part of its aim of 65% of own-label sales being based on its Good Health criteria.

“We’re helping our customers to make healthier choices by reformulating products, growing our healthier ranges and using our Good Health label,” said a Waitrose spokesman.

“We’ll be continuing to reduce multibuy promotions on HFSS products over the year ahead. In these tough times, we’ll be listening and responding to our customers, to ensure we offer the promotions that most appeal to them across all of our ranges.”

Health campaigners are now urging other retailers to follow suit, claiming that the PM has misread the mood of consumers.

“Well done to Tesco for standing by the commitment to avoid unhealthy multibuy offers and focus on more nutritious food and drink instead,” said Barbara Crowther, Children’s Food Campaign co-ordinator at Sustain.

“The UK’s largest retailer is clear that there are better ways to offer customers great value and healthier shopping baskets. The prime minister and health secretary need to reconsider their decision to delay the introduction of industry-wide regulations.

“We call on every retailer to join Tesco and Sainsbury’s and publicly commit to supporting children’s health by phasing out unhealthy multibuy deals by October 2023 as originally planned.”