What does HFSS mean for retailers and brands?

The restrictions on products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) could lead to some of the most significant changes to UK food and drink retailers in years.

The regulations which came into play in October last year, limit the placement and promotion, including digital and in-store promotions, of HFSS products, with the aim of reducing uptake of unhealthy products as part of the government’s strategy to tackle obesity.

Those impacted food and drink categories are listed in The Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021  and include confectionery, savoury snacks, soft drinks and pizza. However, this does not mean every product within each category is impacted.

Each is rated on an individual product level by a ‘Nutrient Profile Score’ with negative points for calorie density, saturated fat, sugar and sodium, and positive points for protein, fibre, fruit, vegetables and nuts. Foods that score four or more and drinks that score one or more are classed as HFSS products.

In addition, HFSS will also limit the ability to create volume promotions such as multi-buy, 3 for 2 or buy one get one free offers on HFSS food and drinks for all retailers on 1 October 2023.

Consumer behaviour around snacking

As many Brits have adopted a flexible working lifestyle, the need for snacks on the go is prevalent and research from Kantar suggests individually wrapped cakes are growing at +8.2% following their flat performance in 2020. Small Cakes, the biggest segment in the category, are also seeing growth of +5.7%.1

However, consumer demand for healthier snacks and treats is, and has been on the rise for some time. William Bolton, head of R&D at Premier Foods International says, “Not only are we seeing growing demand for nutritious meals and snacks, people are increasingly looking for healthier ways to treat themselves. In fact, 73% of shoppers told us they wanted healthier cake options.”

Taste is undoubtably still top priority, but consumers are seeking snacks that are portion controlled by calories (under 100 calories per portion), have lower fat content and less sugar, or have additional nutritional benefits such as real fruit, fibre and protein to mentally offset their calorie intake. 

At Queensland Bakery, we recognise that consumers will always still crave indulgent treats. We already offer individually wrapped bars and snacks and we’re looking into creating portion-controlled products at less than 100 calories a serving to promote responsible treating.  We’re also exploring how we can reduce sugar, fat and salt from our treats by utilising alternative ingredients but without compromising on taste.

If you’d like to explore how you can create an individually wrapped or portion-controlled range to tackle HFSS, get in touch.