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.
July 26: The Government has published a Green Paper outlining proposals for tackling the causes of preventable ill health in England, including banning the sale of energy drinks to children under 16.
The Government also committed to deliver a Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme in partnership with the Local Government Association and PHE, working with local authorities to tackle childhood obesity in Blackburn with Darwen, Birmingham, Bradford, Lewisham and Nottinghamshire.
Proposals including a commitment to introduce a 9pm watershed on TV advertising of HFSS products and on making calorie labeling mandatory in the out-of-home sector, such as restaurants, takeaways and cafes are not included which indicates these issues will be delayed or cancelled.
The Government are now consulting on the proposals contained within the Green Paper, with a deadline of October 14.
Energy drinks ban
The Government will legislate to end the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16. Full details will follow when the Government publishes its response to the consultation.
Childhood Obesity Strategy
As part of the Green Paper, the Government published the Chapter 3 of the Childhood Obesity Strategy. This sets out plans for: clear labelling, food reformulation improving the nutritional content of foods, and support for individuals to achieve and maintain a healthier weight. To achieve a reduction of the population’s salt intakes to 7g per day the Government will publish revised salt reduction targets in 2020 for industry to achieve by mid-2023 and will report on industry’s progress in 2024.
There is no commitment to extending the sugar tax to sugary milk drinks; however “if the evidence shows that industry has not made enough progress on reducing sugar, we may extend the SDIL to sugary milk drinks.”
The Government will consult by the end of 2019 on how they can build on the current front-of pack nutritional labelling scheme post-Brexit. The consultation will consider the evidence underpinning these many different forms of front-of-pack labelling.
The Government want to make alcohol-free and low-alcohol products more available with a significant increase in availability by 2025. In order to support further innovation in the sector and encourage people to move towards alcohol-free products, Government will review the evidence to consider increasing the alcohol-free descriptor threshold from 0.05% abv up to 0.5% abv.
July 2: Defra has announced plans to introduce new legislation which will mandate full ingredients labelling for foods which are prepacked for direct sale. It is proposed that the new laws will come into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by summer 2021.
Under current Food Information Regulations, full ingredient labelling requirements currently apply only to pre-packaged food. For other foods, businesses are permitted to make allergen information available by any means, including orally. The new lawwill require full ingredient labelling to be provided on the packaging of all food pre-packed for direct sale, with the 14 specified food allergens presented in bold. This will apply to foods that have been packed on the same premises from which they are being sold, for example, a packaged salad or baguette made by staff, packaged in the kitchen and then placed on a shelf for customers to purchase. The legislation will not include foods packed at the consumer’s request, such as a made to order sandwich, or loose foods. Labels will not be required to include potential cross-contact.
The Government will introduce the legislation by the end of summer 2019 with an implementation period of two years before the new law comes into force in England and Northern Ireland by summer 2021. The Scottish Government aims to implement a law for Scotland by autumn 2021.
FWD does not support full allergen labelling, given the practical issues it would create for foodservice operators and wholesalers. We will be lobbying FSA and Defra for a mandatory requirement for suppliers to provide information to a centralised database to be introduced as part of the new legislation, to ensure caterers are able to access allergen into order to be able to comply with the new labelling requirement.
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