Further government delays on banning two-for-one product deals set to impact nation’s health

There is little doubting the fact that a renewed surge in demand for better-for-you product options, including within confectionery and snacks ranges, appears to be showing no sign of slowing any time soon, as shoppers become ever more savvy about their dietary intake.

Despite this sustained trend, on the flip side, we’re very much a nation that enjoys its snacks – perhaps a little bit too much, given the acknowledged health crisis that now places around two thirds of Brits as being clinically overweight.

So, the fact that the UK government has further kicked its flagship obesity campaign plans centred on banning ‘two for one special offers’ into the long grass, delaying them by a further two years until well after the next general election has been greeted by a mixture of shock and dismay by many industry observers. The scheme had meant to be brought in last October, but the government cited harsh economic conditions as a reason not to follow through on its plans.

Looking at it objectively, amid a pretty stressful world with plenty of extremely challenging events impacting our lives, including the broader cost of living crisis, having a few treats in our lives is surely no bad thing, as with the ‘Always a treat’ responsible enjoyment of sweets and snacks being pursued in the US. But as for the UK, in failing to adopt promised health policies that have tried and tested precedents such as the ‘sugar tax’ on drinks, applied to wider food categories, an already troubling situation is likely to become rapidly worse.

That is at least the view of chair of action on sugar, professor Graham MacGregor, who noted that not only was the delay in enacting promised legislation likely to cause further negative health impacts, it was also actively encouraging people to spend around 20% more than they were planning to in buying into such superficially bargain offers.

According to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, he ‘defended people’s right to choice’ in regards to their weekly shopping – which seems fair enough in principle, but weighing this against the dozens of billions that we are all collectively paying each and every year in dealing with NHS treatment for obesity and other weight related issues, the urgent need to tackle this issue head on rather than years down the line is hugely apparent.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production magazine

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