HFSS regulations: what UK food and drink brands need to know

26 Oct 2022

New HFSS regulations are coming into effect on October 1st that restrict the promotion of products that are high in fat, sugar, or salt. The move is intended to improve people’s diets and reduce children’s sugar intake. The new regulations are a positive step towards becoming a more health-conscious and health-responsible nation. 

But what does this change mean for businesses? 

In this post, we’ll look at the new HFSS regulations and explore how UK food and drink SMBs can prepare for them. 

What are the new HFSS regulations?

The Government’s new HFSS regulations are aimed at reducing obesity by restricting the promotion of foods high in fat, salt, or sugar. This means no more promotions like ‘buy one get one free’ on unhealthy products. It also means merchants can no longer place HFSS products in high-visibility locations online or in-store. The regulations come into play on October 1st 2022. 

HFSS products span thousands of items, including confectionery, savoury snacks, drinks, ready meals, processed meats and fast food items. Determining whether or not a product is high in fat, salt or sugar will be done using the 2004/05 Nutrient Profiling Model

The new measures are no surprise given that, in the UK, 14.4% of children aged (age 4-5) are obese, with a further 13.3% overweight. At age 10-11, 25.5% are obese and 15.4% overweight. The overall objective of the new HSSF regulations is to halve childhood obesity by 2030.

But what about adults? 

Obesity is much worse in the adult population, with around three-quarters of adults aged 45-74 in the UK being overweight. The new HFSS regulations should hopefully bring down these figures too. 

What does HFSS mean for businesses? 

The changes are likely to affect many U.K. food and drink merchants that sell products now deemed to be HFSS. In fact, it’s been estimated that U.K. businesses will lose around £1.1 billion.

This figure is huge but unsurprising given the amount of money made through promotions like ‘buy one get one free’ on popular food and drink products. Especially when they’re placed in prominent online and in-store locations, but with these no longer being an option, businesses need to develop new strategies.

How can food and drink SMBs prepare for these new regulations?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways food and drink SMBs can prepare for the new regulations and minimise their impact. 

Speak with affected retailers

Retailers higher up the supply chain will be affected by the new regulations just as much as food and drink merchants. 

To minimise the impact on both sides, retailers will make key business decisions to offset the loss of revenue from promotions on HFSS products. It’s a good idea to get involved in these conversations and speak with affected retailers to see what they plan to do. 

For example, will they seek similar but healthier alternatives to HFSS products? Or perhaps the focus can be shifted to non-consumable products? 

Whatever the plan, speaking with affected retailers is crucial going forward. 

Review your product offerings

Now’s a good time to review your product offerings to determine what products are HFSS and what you can do about updating your offerings in-line with the regulations. 

Since multi-buy product offerings will disappear, can you offer discounts by selling larger packs with higher quantities? 

If you make your own products, can you swap some ingredients to make them healthier? Some bigger companies are already doing this with reformulated HFSS-compliant products

For example, Mr Kipling’s latest ‘Deliciously Mr Kipling’ range promises to contain 30% less sugar and ten times more fibre. The new range will still include all of Mr Kipling’s popular treats, including Bakewell Sponge Slices, Bramely Apple Pies, Angel Slices, and Chocolate Slices. 

Rethink your marketing

With the new HFSS regulations essentially hiding certain products from consumers, affected businesses must rethink their marketing strategies to get products noticed.  

Marketers may begin to attach healthier connotations to the consumption of HFSS products. For example, unhealthier products could be marketed as a one-off treat after a busy week at work. Headlines like ‘Go on, just this once, you’ve worked hard…’ or ‘Have you been to the gym yet?’ could be a way to promote exercise and activity as a prerequisite to eating an unhealthy snack. 

Businesses could also target social media channels to reach audiences away from the spotlight of their stores. This is also a great way to gather feedback on how the changes affect your customers. 

Let Workhorse help ease your transition to HFSS

Workhorse’s order and inventory management software is an all-in-one solution that gives food and drink brands greater control over orders and inventory management. We can help you ease the transition to HFSS with the Workhorse centralised dashboard. Here you can see data-backed insights that let you analyse the effects of the new regulations. 

Notice a certain product isn’t selling? Is a product from your new healthy range selling well? Or maybe you need to batch-track new ingredients in a previously HFSS product? Workhorse shows you exactly what’s going on to help you make key decisions to minimise the impact of the new regulations. 

To learn more about smart order and inventory management, be sure to read through the Workhorse blog where we cover trends, news, and big ideas to help SMBs. 

If you want to learn more about how Workhorse can help your food and drink brand keep up with all the latest regulations, reach out to our team today for more information and a demo!

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