From April 2022, new legislation will come into force in the UK limiting the display of HFSS products in physical and digital stores. This has been put forward by the government in a bid to tackle obesity in the UK, a long-term issue that particularly came under the spotlight during the 2020 pandemic when a link between obesity and hospitalisation due to COVID-19 symptoms was established.
What are HFSS foods?
From April 2022, offers for unhealthy foods like ‘buy one get one free’ and promotions in prominent locations in stores and online will be restricted.
In 2004 the Food Standards Authority in the UK developed a scoring tool called the Nutrient Profile Model to help identify foods that have High Fat, Sugar & Salt levels – HFSS products. Using this model, HFSS foods are defined as “less healthy foods with a NP score of four points or higher, and beverages that score one or higher. Examples include soft drinks, drinks with added sugars, cakes, sweets & confectionery, cereals, pastries, ice cream, pizza, crisps, and ready meals.
How will this impact retailers?
Large brick & mortar stores that sell food and drink will no longer be able to place HFSS products at store entrances, aisle ends, checkouts or online equivalents. In the digital store, this means entry pages, landing pages, shopping baskets or payment pages. The ban also includes price promotions, such as buy one get one free and multibuys.
The HFSS ban impacts the impulse category in the retail environment, where consumers act on habit and shop on autopilot. By removing that impulse, you are hopefully going to nudge them a little more awake in their shopping habits. We will not know what the impact this ban will have on consumers’ behaviours, but we do know that these HFSS products will leave room for something new. A chance for retailers to re-engage the conversation of health with their consumers.
“As a result of the Covid pandemic, there is strong consumer demand for healthier eating plus regulatory pressure to improve the health of nations.
However, nutrition and health are specialist areas. Spoon Guru’s unique combination of dietary and technology expertise offers our retail partners unique solutions to execute on health strategy through customer experiences and insights.”
The ongoing crisis around health
While this legislation may be new, the call to help improve people’s health and quality of life by reducing instances of obesity, is not. We know that unhealthy diets are the second biggest cause of death worldwide, and here in Britain they cause 107,000 deaths per year. In fact, in the UK 63% of adults and 34% of children are overweight or obese.
What we also know is that consumers are asking for change and want help achieving it. Since the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic set in in March 2020, 7 in 10 adults have said that they are motivated to make healthier lifestyle changes as a result, and 29% of UK consumers have actually gone ahead and made changes to their diet. However, 3 out of 4 shoppers (75%) believe supermarkets don’t do enough to support health.
“The cost of fulfilling a family’s dietary needs is a hugely important factor, and we know the last 12 months have seen a lot of families fall into very difficult times.
So helping families unlock healthier diets at an appropriate price is going to be critical, and I think that is where the retailers play an important role to help those families, either online or in a store, recognise that you can eat healthily at a lower or the same price than what you would have bought before.”
UK grocers are in a race to make the UK healthy – and the competition is strong
While legislation is still needed by the government, we’ve seen that retailers have been listening to consumers, and are already taking up the mantle on public health. So how are they doing this?
Tesco have set themselves some ambitious targets. They’re currently aiming to increase sales of plant-based meat alternatives by 300%, and increase the number of total sales that will come from products defined as healthy by the government’s nutrient profiling model from 58% to 65%, all by 2025. As a digital health enabler for Tesco, Spoon Guru already helps their customers find better & healthier products through the “Helpful little swaps” feature, as well as making it easier for customers to find products that are “low sugar”, “low saturated fats”, “source of fibre” etc.
Sainsbury’s is making a big move in this space, as shown in their latest ad campaign, and are committing to helping the nation make healthier choices. With only a quarter of Brits eating the recommended five portions of fruit & vegetables a day, this is a welcome initiative. Other grocers will need to move fast to keep pace.
Asda is banning cartoons from its own-brand sweet treats in a fight against child obesity. They have also introduced a new ‘Live Better’ icon signposting the healthiest options in Asda own brand ranges.
“If somebody wants a chocolate bar there’s no point in promoting an apple, right? But if you show them a chocolate bar that has less sugar, less salt, more fibre – people go for that.
And when you then give them a mechanism to understand how they’re tracking against their goal, to incentivise them, I think that’s one of the successful methods we have at our disposal.”
Technology is an important enabler to drive change
To truly drive lasting change, retailers need to use the technology and tools available to them to help remove friction from food search and discovery. Shoppers want to be better educated about the health and nutrition of the food they buy, but research has found that they put retailers at the very bottom of the list of places they go to for this information.
That, in itself, presents a very big opportunity for differentiation in the grocery space.
From highly accurate product classification and analysis, to increased transparency, implementing the right tools helps to educate consumers and surface healthier alternatives which not only reinforces better habits for the consumer, but provides the retailer with actionable insights to measure the effectiveness of these interventions.
“I think in stores, in the physical space, food retailers are already starting to adapt. But I think online is where that balance is going to really change.
But that’s going to need some investment. And some bravery.”
Covid has accelerated the need for grocers to win in personalised health
At Spoon Guru we have one eye on consumer demands and the other on retailer targets – and we are the bridge between those two.
Spoon Guru’s mission is to partner with food retailers around the world to build intelligent commerce solutions which allow their consumers to easily find products based on their dietary needs, health goals and ethical preferences. Why? Because we want to drive positive change at scale, enable truly personalised experiences, create better consumer outcomes, and to increase value for our retail and technology partners.
“How do you meet people where they’re at? How do you understand what their goals are and then make it easier – just a little bit easier?
I think that’s the only way you can drive lasting change, and we think, as a technology company in this space, there are digital enablers that hopefully facilitate this process for shoppers around the world.”
Retailers wanting to retain a competitive edge need to embrace intelligent commerce
With Spoon Guru’s solutions, insights and expertise, retailers are able to deliver a seamless, personalised and accurate product discovery experience for shoppers based on their health needs and dietary preferences. This drives a behaviour change that lasts.
With our clients, we are seeing an increase in average order value by 10% for shoppers who swap for healthier alternatives. We are also seeing a 50% increase in conversion rate for shoppers adding a recommended healthier alternative product to their basket.
With all this in mind, we are launching an exciting new product very soon. This powerful and first of its kind solution will allow retailers to level up their health and wellness offering, improve loyalty, and provide a much needed competitive edge. If you’d like to learn more about our new solution, let us know.