CURRENT ISSUES
Food and Drink

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.

on your plate
On the radar this month:

Calorie Labelling

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

  • The calorie labelling requirement will apply to any establishment, including vehicles and fixed or mobile stalls, in which food and drink is prepared and sold so that it is ready for consumption by the final consumer. This would include, for example, restaurants, take-away businesses (including those that operate online), fast food outlets, coffee shops, canteens, schools, hospitals and catering enterprises.
  • Calorie information is provided to consumers at the point of choice; that is, the place in an establishment where prices are displayed and customers make their meal choices.
  • Calorie labels display the number of calories in a portion of food, as well as this amount as a proportion of the recommended daily energy intake for an adult woman (2,000 kcal).
  • Calorie labelling is provided for all food and drink items that an establishment offers, including sides, toppings and drinks, seasonal dishes and ‘specials’, as well as self-service items such as buffets, salad bars, sauces and dressings.
  • Businesses are given 12 months to implement this requirement before legislation comes into force in Spring 2020, with the potential for longer implementation periods for some businesses, subject to consultation.
  • For each menu item offered, businesses will display the number of calories for what the business considers a standard portion as served by that business, and make it clear to customers what size a standard portion would be.
  • Where a business sells takeaway dishes through a third party business, such as an online takeaway platform, the responsibility for calculating the calorie content of the food or drink rests with the business making and selling it, and responsibility for displaying the calorie information at the point of choice rests with the business through which the consumer buys the food or drink.

Energy Drinks

August 30: The Government has announced a consultation on a ban on sales of energy drinks to children. FWD gave oral evidence to the Science and Health committee on this topic and have been at the forefront of this debate, and welcome the announcement for the clarity it provides to retailers.
 
Wholesalers of energy drinks are clear to their customers about the suitability of energy drinks and clearly label high caffeine soft drinks as not recommended for children.

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.

Soft drinks levy

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