Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Sales of chocolates soar since new law to cut down on unhealthy food

Government legislation banning high fat, sugar and salt products from prominent displays in supermarkets was introduced in October last year.

But chocolate sales have risen by half a million units a month in the past year, worth an extra £50million to retailers and confectioners.

Sales of chilled deserts such as ice creams, cakes and yoghurts have also rocketed since the new rules were introduced, rising by 75 per cent since October 2022.

This equated to an extra £3.8million in sales, according to research by retail analysts Reapp. It also found sweets sales increased by an extra 100,000 units a month in the same period.

In stark contrast, sales of healthier snacks have increased just one per cent in that time, showing a clear consumer preference for more indulgent treats.

James Lamplugh, Reapp commercial director, said: “Brands have demonstrated real skill in adapting to legislation to deliver growth. Retailers too have been savvy with their promotion to retain customer loyalty.

“And with inflation and the cost-of- living crisis being huge factors in our lives, consumers found ­themselves staying at home more, driving the ‘Big Night In’ trend where we see shoppers treating themselves to little luxuries such as chocolate and confectionery.”

The legislation brought in last October, which moved unhealthy products to the back of stores instead of being displayed near checkouts, had long been called for by health charities, and pressure groups including Action on Sugar and Action on Salt.

Boris Johnson’s government had been set to go even further, with ­restrictions on advertising high fat, salt and sugar products due to come in from the start of this year.

But this was delayed until 2025 over concerns about its impact on the food and drink sector in tough economic times.

Earlier this summer, supermarket giants Tesco and Sainsbury’s revealed they will push ahead with plans not to sell high-fat, salt and sugar products through multi-buys, despite the ­government delay in banning such marketing tactics.

Research by The Food Foundation has revealed a third of “buy one get one free” deals involve unhealthy foods.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chair

of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, said: “Given two thirds of adults in the UK are now living with obesity or are overweight, one in three are suffering from dental decay and the NHS is under huge pressure, it’s disappointing that major brands are finding ways to overcome legislation to increase sales across sugary products.

“Whichever political party is elected next year must put the health of the nation first.

“This must include price promotion restrictions on unhealthy food and introducing levies which have been successful at incentivising food companies to reduce the sugar, salt, saturated fat and calories in their products.”

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