More than 330,000 foodservice operators and 73,000 retailers rely on FWD members for the supply of fresh, chilled and frozen food – often delivered daily, and ready to go straight on the menu or the counter.
FWD represents wholesalers in reactive action by government, for example taking the lead in representing the industry on issues such as Free School Meals, Holiday Hunger and wider health and obesity issues. FWD is on the board of the School Food Plan Alliance, which brings together organisations with an interest in school food and attend the regular meetings of the School Food All Party Parliamentary Group.
We are also actively involved in the formulation of food regulation. We work with the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs to produce guidance on the new Food Information to Consumers regulations, and bring members together to discuss how best to implement the requirements.
In addition, FWD represents members’ views on economic controls on food supply, such as the Soft Drinks Levy, to ensure that unintended consequences of intervention are taken into account, such as the growth of a grey market.
FWD recognises the role that alcohol plays in contributing to anti-social behaviour and health harms, and supports across-the-board measures that consider the supply of alcohol equally, such as minimum unit pricing.
June 3: The Government is reviewing responses to its consultation on changing food allergen information laws.
The consultation is seeking thoughts on updating the food allergen labelling rules for foods which are prepacked for direct sale (PPDS). In particular, which options would work best:
FWD responded to this consultation outlining that, option 1 or 2 would be the most effective route forward. For Option 2, which mandates “ask the staff” labels on packages of food prepared for direct sale with a requirement for supporting information for consumers to be made available in writing, our members believe written information should only include allergen information.
For small and micro businesses, which make up the majority of our members’ customers, it is very difficult for them to provide detailed ingredient labels. However, we believe consumers need consistency and therefore the approach adopted should be the same for all businesses, regardless of size.
Central repository of allergen information
Given the vital importance of correct allergen information, our members would like to see manufacturers mandated by Government to place allergen information in a central repository, which would allow food business operators to easily access allergen information.
There are multiple such systems which currently exist on the market place and provided such systems were able to be accessed centrally they would be accessible to premises selling food, including products that are prepacked for direct sale.
A centralised database would only require the manufactures to provide this information once. Another benefit of this system is that it would easily communicate product recalls.
A system needs to be created whereby a seller can quickly check the allergens in their products. This would be updated in real time and have an alert system if a recipe is changed, preferably via the product code automatically flagging the change so it can be seen at point of purchase.
March 22: The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a consultation on restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt by location and by price. The consultation proposes which products are in scope, along with the type of price promotions and store locations which would be restricted.
DHSC proposes restrictions should apply to all products which are classed as high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) under the current nutrient profile model AND are included in the PHE’s sugar and calorie reduction programmes. For soft drinks, it includes those which are in scope of the soft drinks industry levy.
DHSC are targeting what they refer to as ‘volume’ promotions of pre-packed products only. This includes:
They consider meal deals in any setting should be exempt. In addition, most promotions in the out of home sector are excluded including: ‘kids eat free’ or similar meal offers for children, free desserts/sides, or offers like ‘2 courses for £X’.
In-store locations include:
These restrictions would apply to retail and out of home settings and to both pre-pack and non-pre-pack.
For both type and location, the consultation seeks views on whether the stated products should always be restricted or whether a proportion should still be allowed to promote to incentivise reformulation.
FWD is responding to the consultation.
January 21: The Welsh Government have released a new consultation on obesity. Proposals reflect those made by the Government’s of the UK and Scotland, with items around TV advertising restrictions, out of home restrictions, and promotional and multibuy changes.Notably, there are also plans to restrict the sale of energy drinks to under 16s.
December 20: Public Health England has published a report detailing progress by the food industry towards meeting the salt reduction targets set in 2014 and to be achieved by December 2017. On own label and branded products, 52% of all the average salt reduction targets set were met by 2017. Retailers made more progress than manufacturers towards achieving average targets, meeting 73% of these compared with manufacturers meeting 37%.
The Government has launched a consultation on mandating calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector. FWD will respond on behalf of members to the consultation document here.
Summary of proposals
Any coordinated voluntary action by the 70,000 retailers served by FWD members is extremely challenging as the majority are independent retailers. The announcement by the Government that energy drinks require an mandatory age restriction is welcome for the clarity it provides to those retailers.
More than half of wholesale customers operate under a symbol group brand. While these retailers operate under a fascia, they remain independent and it is up to each individual retailer to decide their store’s procedures. Wholesalers can encourage policies in-store but do not have any power to enforce them. Unlike franchises, symbol groups are usually only based on a wholesale purchase agreement rather than formally requiring stores to follow strict operating procedures.
The Soft Drinks Industry Levy which require manufacturers and importers of soft drinks to pay a levy on high sugar products went live on April 6. The levy is made up of two rates: 18p per litre if the drink has 5g of sugar or more per 100ml and 24p per litre if the drink has 8g of sugar or more per 100ml.
Ahead of its introduction FWD has been working with Coca-Cola European Partners and the British Soft Drinks Association to highlight the potential fraud risks of the sugar tax, which includes a trade press campaign to highlight the issue to retailers and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity to HMRC.
What you can do: If you notice any drop off in sales of high sugar soft drink skus, or retailers say they’ve been offered these lines at very low prices, please let us know, or report it to the Customs Hotline