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:

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.

Obesity Strategy

The Government has published Chapter 2 of the Obesity Strategy. As anticipated, the Strategy has a strong focus on energy drinks and it includes the commitment to consult before the end of 2018 on introducing legislation ending the sale of energy drinks to children.

The Strategy mentions the strong results the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has produced and the Government will seeking to expand this to sugary milk drinks.

Furthermore, it says the Government will look at whether the self-regulatory basis of online advertising rules continues to be the right approach for protecting children from the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks. The Government will also consult on introducing a 9pm watershed on TV advertising of HFSS products and similar protection for children viewing adverts online.

Key measures 

  • Will consult before the end of 2018 on introducing legislation ending the sale of energy drinks to children
  • National ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030
  • HM Treasury will consider the sugar reduction progress achieved in sugary milk drinks as part of its 2020 review of the milk drinks exemption from SDIL
  • The threat of further use of the tax system if reformulation targets for food are not met
  • Introduce legislation to mandate consistent calorie labelling for the out of home sector (e.g. restaurants, cafes and takeaways) in England, with a consultation before the end of 2018
  • Explore what additional opportunities leaving the European Union presents for food labelling in England that displays world-leading
  • Consult, before the end of 2018, on introducing a 9pm watershed on TV advertising of HFSS products and similar protection for children viewing adverts online
  • Will consider whether the self-regulatory basis of online advertising rules continues to be the right approach for protecting children from the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks
  • Intend to ban price promotions, such as buy one get one free and multi-buy offers or unlimited refills of unhealthy foods and drinks in the retail and out of home sector through legislation, consulting before the end of 2018
  • Intend to ban the promotion of unhealthy food and drink by location (at checkouts, the end of aisles and store entrances) in the retail and out of home sector through legislation, consulting before the end of 2018

Next Steps

  • Closely monitor for the publication of the Government consultations. No precise date for these were given in the strategy document. However, we anticipate these will be published in the summer and run for a 12 week period. Implementation is likely to be in 2019.
  • Gather further intelligence on how this would be introduced via legislation.
  • Brief and prepare members for a mandatory ban on the sale of energy drinks to children and consider any impacts this may have on businesses.
  • Monitor closely any intelligence on the expansion of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy post 2020, and prepare members for a potential expansion of this.

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