How are Supermarkets and Food Retailers Adapting to the HFSS Regulations?

The United Kingdom is facing a health crisis. With just over one in four adults and one in five children in England living with obesity as of November 2021, the government is looking for ways to tackle the issue. Part of the strategy includes changing the way we shop through legislation. Making foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS) less visible in supermarkets should make shoppers less likely to pick them up.

For supermarkets and retailers, the legislation requires adjustments to shop layouts and the placement of certain products. Here is how retailers can tackle the problem without losing business.

What is HFSS Legislation?

The term HFSS legislation is shorthand for a framework of regulations passed in the United Kingdom in 2021. The rules apply to retailers based in England and regulate how they can position and promote foods that are high in fat content, sugar, and salt. The law not only applies to brick-and-mortar retail stores but also covers their online subsidiaries.

The goal of this legislation is to limit sales by volume price. The new rules will put a stop to promotions such as “buy one get one free” for products that are covered by its provisions. Products covered by the regulations should also become harder to find on stores’ shelves and food display stands. The regulations will come into force in just a few weeks, on 1 October 2022.

These restrictions are a key part of the British government’s strategy to turn the tide on obesity in the country. Obesity figures have been increasing consistently for years, and there are no signs of a reversal of this trend. Changing the way Britons shop may contribute to a solution.

What Are Examples of HFSS Products?

Before taking a closer look at what the legislation means for retailers, it is worth understanding which products will be affected. Put simply, HFSS refers to less healthy foods. Biscuits and soft drinks are included within the definition as well as pastries and puddings. On the savoury side, pizza, breaded and battered products, ready meals, and potato chips are also falling foul of the government’s idea of healthy foods.

HFSS regulations also apply to foods that may seem healthy at first sight: countless breakfast cereals are included because of their sugar content. The new rules will also apply to yoghurts, as well as juice-based and milk-based drinks if they contain sugar.

Staple products like butter or similar spreads are currently excluded from the HFSS provisions.

How are supermarkets and food retailers affected by the HFSS legislation?

According to industry experts, the legislation constitutes the “single biggest intervention into UK diets since rationing during and after the Second World War.” Looking at the long list of foods affected by the rules, it is easy to see that it affects nearly every aisle of the average supermarket. In fact, the scope of the changes is so big that the government pushed back its rollout from April 2022 to October.

Retailers need to re-think where they position these products and how they promote them. Let us be honest, the legislation covers some of the English public’s biggest favourites.

Another concern is potential lost revenue due to limitations on volume promotions. Crowd pleasers like “3 for 2” and “buy one get one free” will no longer be available for anything from potato crisps to ice cream.

In-store, shoppers need to prepare for an entirely new look and a new shopping experience. Retailers need to prepare by allocating additional floor staff helping to point customers in the right direction. Shop owners also need to consider specialist display suppliers like Luminati to be ready for October.

How are stores adapting to the new policy?

Select Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores have started implementing the changes in some of their locations. Shoppers will no longer find promotions for HFSS foods near checkouts or store entrances. Aisle ends will also now be reserved for healthier food options.

Online retailers have to make similar changes. Foods considered to be unhealthy can no longer be included in attention-grabbing banner adverts or be a part of promotions that drive a higher volume of sales.

As more retailers are getting ready to roll out new store layouts, shoppers will likely have to put up with a period of shifting store layouts as retailers are exploring new display options.

Display Tips for HFSS Food Items

With the implementation deadline approaching fast, retailers need to start preparing now. Rather than dwelling on the options that have been taken away, this is the time to get creative with food displays.

Start by identifying the aisles that will be affected by the legislation and consider whether there are spaces that would make HFSS products easy to find without breaking any rules. Choosing specialist displays like pick and mix stands can make the changes easier for your customers.


Display Systems and POS for HFSS Products

Custom-designed display units are an excellent option for many retailers. They attract attention and protect food items at the same time. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Hook-on parasite displays
  • Free-standing gravity dispensers
  • Floor-standing displays

Hook-on parasite displays can help items stand out right in the middle of an aisle and attract similar levels of attention as the aisle ends. Free-standing gravity dispensers are an excellent option to draw shoppers’ eyes to cereals. Being able to buy only as much as they need may further encourage consumers to live more healthily.

Floor-standing systems are another great option for putting the spotlight on savoury snacks like crisps and sweets. Limiting promotions and changing positions does not necessarily need to lead to lost revenue with the right display products. 


The UK is facing an obesity crisis which has the potential to lead to an overall health crisis. Changing the way consumers shop is part of the solution to that problem.

Retailers and supermarkets will need to deal with a phase of adaptation and adjustment, but these changes can also bring benefits. Removing HFSS products from checkouts and aisle ends, for example, makes room for alternative products. By using eye-catching displays and choosing products for these positions wisely, retailers have a chance to increase turnover and revenues rather than lose out.

To find out more about displaying HFSS products wisely, visit our website or contact our team for personalised advice.

Looking for Inspiration? Check out our Food & Drink Retail Display

For more information on Retail POS, Custom Displays, Acrylic Frames, Digital Displays, Lecterns & displays for Schools and Businesses please visit our Blog, Industry Specific and Custom Design sections of the website.

Luminati is based on the south Coast in Ivybridge, Devon UK. We have a full manufacturing facility which enables us to offer Custom Designed Display and POS products. Shop our full range of products, including our Clear Acrylic Frames, Custom Designed Lecterns, Digital Advertising Screens and more.

Our Team are always here to help with any enquiry, please send us an email or for more urgent needs give us a call – Contact Us


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