Following consultation, the Scottish government is now seeking views about the detail of proposed regulations to restrict the promotions of foods high in fat, sugar or salt where they are sold to the public. The regulations will be made under the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food (Scotland) Act 2015.

They will restrict the promotion of HFSS foods where they are sold to the public, including across retail and out of home settings. They will target:

  • foods such as confectionery, cakes, crisps, savoury snacks and soft drinks with added sugar; and 
  • promotion types including among other things, multi-buys, temporary price reductions, meal deals and positioning restrictions, such as at checkouts and front of store.

The regulations deal with:

  • targeted foods within the scope of restrictions;
  • price promotions within the scope of restrictions, including meal deals and temporary price reductions;
  • the approach to placement restrictions of targeted foods in store and online;
  • the qualifying businesses within the scope of restrictions, including proposed exemptions; and
  • the proposed approach to enforcement and implementation.

Generally speaking, the regulations will be consistent with the Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021, as well as with the proposed approach in Wales.

However, the Scottish government proposes to include meal deal promotions within the scope of promotion restrictions on the basis that they encourage consumers to purchase more than they may have otherwise planned to get the deal, and HFSS items are common elements of such deals.  This would mean the Scottish approach would be different to that in England; the Welsh government is still considering its approach to meal deals.

The same applies to temporary price promotions (defined as “a promotion where the normal price of an item is discounted for the duration of a defined, time limited period before reverting back to the item's usual price”), which the Scottish government proposes to include within the restrictions. They are not restricted in England. Again, the Welsh government is still considering its approach. 

Location restrictions are largely the same as in England, except that the Scottish government intends to include free standing displays (which are usually away from other products to improve their visibility).  This is also the likely approach in Wales. Online restrictions will be consistent with the approach in England.

With regard to the businesses in scope, the Scottish proposals, including with regard to the treatment of franchise and symbol groups and concessions, are consistent with that in England (with the exception of out of home, which is not within scope in England except in relation to free refills).

The following businesses would be out of scope:

  • Business type – Specialist businesses with a limited product range, such as chocolatiers and sweet shops, will be exempt from location restrictions.
  • Store size – Stores with a relevant floor area of less than 185.8 square metres (2,000 square feet) would not be within the scope of the location restrictions.

Non-compliance with the requirements or restrictions set out in the Regulations will amount to an offence. The maximum criminal penalty proposed is that a person found guilty of an offence will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (£2,500). However, the intention is for local authorities to be able to issue administrative sanctions as an alternative to prosecution.

The Scottish government proposes a 12-month lead in time from when regulations are laid to them coming into force to allow preparation for enforcement and implementation of the policy.

Businesses will be relieved that the regulations are largely consistent with the rest of Great Britain, but may wish to respond on the detail of the new rules.

The consultation ends on 21 May 2024. Find out more here.