CPMA warns on print implication of unhealthy food multibuy ban

Richard Stuart-Turner
Monday, January 25, 2021

The Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance (CPMA) has warned that the planned introduction by the government to ban special multibuy offers on unhealthy foods could kick off a trend leading to more restrictions, design regulations and plain packaging.

Ridgway: Measures could lead to further packaging regulation
Ridgway: Measures could lead to further packaging regulation

In a bid to “support the nation to make healthier choices”, the government said in late December that multibuy offers for unhealthy foods like ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘three for two’ will be restricted from April 2022.

Unhealthy promotions will also no longer be featured in key locations, such as at checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents. Restrictions will apply to medium and large stores.

The high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods set to be affected by the plans include soft drinks, cakes, chocolate confectionery, sugar confectionery, ice cream, sweet biscuits, breakfast cereals, and milk- and juice-based drinks with added sugar, among others.

Free refills of sugary soft drinks will also be prohibited in the eating-out sector.

The government has launched an eight-week technical consultation to seek views from industry stakeholders and enforcement bodies on how these policies can be implemented.

Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “We know families want to be presented with healthier choices. This is why we are restricting promotions and introducing a range of measures to make sure the healthy choice is the easy choice.

“Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation.”

The drive forms a key part of the government’s strategy to tackle obesity – with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6bn a year – and to get the nation fit and healthy.

But CPMA director Mike Ridgway said the restrictions could have a knock-on effect on the marketing of products and with packaging manufacturers.

“It is well known that excessive consumption of certain products are not to be encouraged but a role in education and parental guidances need to be further developed rather than regulation affecting consumer choice and the offering of value for money purchases,” he said.

“Regulations of this type open up the possibilities of further restrictions on the in-store sale locations of these products e.g. aisle ends, entrances to stores, and making all checkouts confectionery-free, which has been a feature with certain retailers already.

“Further trends in controls of this type could lead to further packaging regulation, with design restrictions including the use of colours, design enhancements and attractiveness features ultimately leading to similarities with the existing ‘cigarette styled’ plain packaging, as currently used for tobacco products.”

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