With annual household energy bills now forecast to reach £4,000 next year, pressure is mounting on the would-be Tory leaders to offer solutions.

While attention has focused on the possibility of tax cuts  – and whether Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss would help kickstart the economy or simply pour more fuel on the inflationary flames – other possible interventions are more specific to the food industry.

Last week, election favourite Truss suggested the bogof ban on HFSS foods would fall on her promised bonfire of red tape – though it is unclear quite how far she will be prepared to go to keep prices down. 

Some industry sources believe there could even be a total rowback on the government’s HFSS plans. The first element of the restrictions – the banning of these foods from prominent sales locations, due to come into force in October – is perhaps safest. But the bogof ban and clampdown on ads for HFSS foods – elements that have been delayed amid the cost of living crisis – look far more vulnerable.

According to suppliers, the government’s own figures suggest an HFSS rethink could prevent the industry losing £1bn a year in income, while also protecting shoppers from inevitable price increases on many of their favourite (albeit not very healthy) foods. It’s not hard to imagine Truss, who has voiced her dislike of “nanny state” policies, being swayed by that argument.

HFSS isn’t the only area of debate. The industry is hoping whoever inherits the keys to No 10 will also look at another area of legislation: extended producer responsibilities (EPR). Due to come into force in 2024, the rules will make producers responsible for the disposal of their own packaging – and will likely incur huge costs to industry.

That could, in turn, hit shoppers. Last week FDF CEO Karen Betts told The Sun shoppers would see their food bills rocket by another £60 a year thanks to the charges, representing another 12 days of food and drink expenditure.

Yet other policies appear safer. The Grocer revealed today talks are beginning on the launch of the new National Data Partnership – a key element of the National Food Strategy, and tipped to set the industry agenda for decades to come. It is understood to involve new rules for reporting on areas including health, food waste, emissions and more.

The omens aren’t good for those who argue the industry can ill afford more regulation. With a project board made up of 50 senior people from a swathe of government departments, this could make the Responsibility Deal look small scale. And while the move has supporters within and outside industry, who argue greater transparency and evidence-based reporting is the way forward, the workload involved means one thing for sure: it will not come cheap.