Suppliers are set to drop their opposition to traffic light health labelling on front of pack, after bowing to pressure from the Department of Health and retailers already won over by the government’s call for a universal system, The Grocer can reveal.

The FDF said it expected a new system to be rubber-stamped early next year - although it said there remained major complications for global suppliers, who faced having a different system in the UK to elsewhere in Europe and the rest of the world.

The DH is expected to reveal its plans for a common format, including a hybrid of traffic lights and GDAs, when it releases its response to a consultation on the idea as early as next week.

“We’re still waiting to see which way the DH wants to go on this, but everybody clearly needs to move,” FDF director general Melanie Leech told The Grocer.

“There’s quite a lot of work to do, but I think everybody wants to get on with it.”

Leech added that there were big cost issues involved for companies operating across different markets and the DH would have to take this into account when setting a timescale for changes.

Until recently, the official FDF position has been that traffic lights risk “demonising” certain products high in fat sugar or salt, but since The Grocer exclusively revealed in May that the DH was pushing for a universal front of pack system that incorporated traffic lights and GDAs, opposition from retailers has fallen like a house of cards.

Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl have all caved in to calls to switch from simple GDAs, and this week Sainsbury’s revealed it was ditching its “much loved” Wheel of Health in favour of a new system, which would be easier to make universal.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said any supplier that failed to incorporate traffic lights was being “disingenuous at best”. He added that the current system was “confusing and absolutely undermines trust in the industry”.

One sales director said: “I think most suppliers realise the game is up and they have no real option but to adopt traffic lights.”

Another sales director added: “I think the IGD and FDF need to work together on this and come up with a common system. Otherwise it’s a bit like the old VHS v Betamax scenario. Its about consistency.”

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch added: “We need the whole industry, including retailers, suppliers and foodservice, to reach a consensus. The IGD stands ready to bring the industry together on this.”