Regulations spur healthy snacking in Europe15 Dec 2022
Healthy snack demand is on an upward trajectory in Europe, fuelled by products attaching health halos to their products, according to latest figures by Euromonitor – but regulations may be the real driver.
Euromonitor predictions suggest global health and wellness snack sales could top $98bn (€94bn) by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.4% predicted.
Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst driving demand for healthy snack options. However, longer term, the momentum is expected to be underpinned by concerns over spiralling obesity rates and an increase in related conditions such as diabetes and cancer.
Landmark UK regulation sets the tone, Germany may follow
However, for all the talk of health benefits, clean label and ‘free from’ claims, regulation and government intervention may be the real determinants of change, Euromonitor suggests
In October 2022, the UK introduced restrictions for products high in fat, sugar, and salt (known as the HFSS regulation) with more restrictions to follow over the next two years.
The government’s plan will remove products classified as high in fat, sugar and salt from prominent in-store and online positions in retailers above 185.8 square metres.
Further plans rescheduled for next year will look to restrict multibuy offers and volume-based promotions such as “buy one get one free.”
Advertising will also be impacted with plans to introduce a 9pm watershed on TV and a ban of paid online advertisements in early 2024.
Germany is also looking at a ban on the advertisements of products high in fat, sugar and salt during TV shows aimed at teenagers.
Public bodies disrupting the food industry
“Such initiatives reflect the determination across European governments to improve the eating habits of consumers, with the pioneering HFSS regulation in England highlighting the power of public bodies to influence and disrupt the entire foods industry despite the reaction of food companies,” said Natalia Theofilopoulou, research analyst for Euromonitor.
“As the European snacking market is being transformed into an increasingly regulated environment where promotions and advertising are dramatically restricted, there is an unprecedented need among snacks manufacturers and retailers to stand out through innovation on recipe reformulation without disregarding taste, the most important factor that drives snacks consumption.”
Reformulation in response
The prospect of these rules becoming law has resulted in brand manufacturers switching the focus to recipe reformulations and new product developments that are exempt from the regulation.
Examples include Nestle’s commitment to slash an estimated 59 million teaspoons of sugar from its breakfast cereals by the end of 2021. The FMCG giant had previously rolled out its new 10% less sugar Kit Kat recipe.
Suntory-owned Lucozade cut the sugar content of its full-sugar energy drink range in half.
Meanwhile Rowntree introduced 30% less sugar variants of Fruit Pastilles and Randoms. In savoury snacks category, KP Snacks is aiming to reclassify a quarter of its portfolio as non-HFSS by October 2022.
Government confident in chances of secondary legislation
“This decision means the placement aspects of the regulations will come into force as planned in October 2022,” said Katrina Anderson, food lawyer at Osborne Clarke. “These will apply both online and in-store.
“It also means that promotion and advertising restrictions on HFSS appear forthcoming as the legal avenues for challenge now appear to be largely exhausted.
“More generally, it means that the government can confidently use secondary legislation to bring in further restrictions on HFSS products without the scrutiny required for primary legislation,” she added.
“For example, government announcements have suggested that there may be labelling requirements brought in.”
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