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Research reveals how changing store layouts has the power to tackle obesity

  • 61% of consumers say making products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) less visible would have a greater impact on their decision to buy than increasing costs
  • 41% would be more likely to eat a product that had been reformulated to reduce its fat, sugar or salt content 
  • Research also highlights the consumer conundrum of health vs cost; while 68% agree with the need for anti-obesity legislation, 53% would miss BOGOF deals on HFSS products

London, 28 June 2022 - Research conducted by GS1 UK has found that removing products high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) from prime locations in-store may have a far greater impact on the nation’s health than raising prices.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to derail plans for tackling obesity, the omission of proposed HFSS taxes in the government’s response to the National Food Strategy and the recent decision to delay bans on BOGOF deals have attracted widespread criticism from health campaigners.

However, new rules banning HFSS products from aisle-ends and checkouts will still come into force from October 2022 and GS1 UK’s survey of more than 2,000 consumers reveals how this could be the key to inspiring healthier choices.

Almost two thirds of those surveyed (61%) said that making HFSS products less visible in-store would have a direct influence on their decision to buy, while just 26% would be dissuaded from purchasing unhealthy products if only available at full price.

41% of consumers said they would be more likely to eat a product that had been reformulated to reduce its fat, sugar or salt content, revealing a willingness to swap familiar products for healthier alternatives.

While 68% agreed with the need for legislation to combat obesity, 53% said they would miss deals on HFSS products, highlighting the consumer conundrum of balancing health against the growing cost of living.

This suggests that transforming store layouts and providing healthier alternatives will do more to promote better choices amongst consumers than introducing legislation that hits their wallets.

Implementing these changes still represents a huge challenge and industry has recognised the need for increased collaboration to adapt to new legislative demands. To help businesses understand which products are affected and ensure compliance, GS1 UK launched a HFSS solution on their productDNA platform that enables manufacturers and retailers to work together to capture and share HFSS attributes.

In the first six weeks following launch, the number of products uploaded to productDNA increased by more than 26,000 and the number shared by 45,000, proving that when industry needs to find solutions to address challenges, collaboration gets it done.

Sarah Atkins, CMO and membership director at GS1 UK, said: “Our research not only proves that consumers want to make healthier choices, it also shows that the retail industry has the power to support them in making them. Despite continued uncertainty surrounding HFSS, we have seen unprecedented levels of collaboration since the legislation was first announced. By coming together, industry has made incredible progress in creating, capturing, and sharing accurate product data that will enable businesses to respond to changing legislative and consumer demands, both now and in the future."

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About GS1 UK

GS1 UK is one of 116 neutral and independent GS1 organisations operating worldwide. Whether online, in store or in a hospital, the common language of GS1 standards is helping our community of over 58,000 organisations to uniquely identify, describe and track anything, creating greater trust in data for everyone.

Our standards have the power to deliver change now and in the future by driving efficiency in the supply chain, and transparency in the wider society, through initiatives such as patient safety programmes and deposit return schemes. From product barcodes to patient wristbands, we harness the power of GS1 standards to transform the way people work and live. / @gs1uk