Insights: Global Insights

Is the World Regulating Its Way To Better Health?

Regulations designed to improve consumer health are well-intended, but come with real costs along the supply chain.

Across the globe over one billion people are considered obese. Overweight and obesity are recognized as a global health crisis. Governments have been ramping up their effort to combat the issue, exploring a variety of tactics to influence consumer choices.

BCI monitors global regulatory announcements daily and sees draft proposals and new implementations on these and other topics from around the globe every week. These regulations are well-intended but come with real costs all along the supply chain. Regulatory changes add cost in the form of staff time just to remain informed, but also in labeling or packaging changes, waste, product reformulation, or even penalties for non-compliance.

In this Global Insights piece, we highlight efforts to reach consumers where they dine, how products are marketed and advertised, and rules limiting product placement in online and brick and mortar retail stores. Below are examples of these kinds of regulations that serve to highlight the constant drip of policy changes food companies, exporters, and marketers will increasingly need to contend with.

Governments have been ramping up their efforts to combat the issue of overweight and obesity, exploring a variety of tactics to influence consumers’ food and beverage purchasing decisions.

Singapore Expands Scorecard to Food Service

  • Since December 30, 2022, non-alcoholic beverages in Singapore are given a grade from A to D based on sugar and saturated fat content. Pre-packaged beverages graded “C” or “D” must carry a Nutri-Grade marking front-of-pack label.
  • Beverages graded “D” are prohibited from advertising, except at point-of-sale platforms.
  • In February 2023, Singapore expanded the scope of its Nutri-Grade measures to include freshly prepared beverages such as coffee or tea, juices, smoothies, bubble tea, etc.
  • Those graded “C” or “D” would be mandated to have the Nutri-Grade mark on the establishment’s physical or online menu.
  • This expansion represents a new frontier of scored nutrition labeling entering retail spaces, where they were previously limited to pre-packaged products.
  • Singapore plans to formally announce the changes by mid-2023, and have the changes enter into force at the end of 2023.

Expanding Bans on Advertisement

  • Limits on food advertisements targeted to children are not new. However, countries are increasingly considering more stringent prohibitions related to high fat, sugar, salt (HFSS) foods.
  • The Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs recently published a Draft Royal Decree on the Regulation of Food and Drink Advertising Aimed At Children that bans the advertisement of HFSS foods to children via television, radio, social networks, websites, applications, movie theaters, and newspapers.
  • Among other restrictions, Argentina bans all advertisement aimed at children, requires the front-of-pack nutrition label (FOPNL) to be included in advertisements to any audience, and bans promotion or free delivery of HFSS foods.
  • Mexico bans the use of characters, cartoons, celebrities, athletes, mascots, games, and digital downloads in the advertisement of any HFSS foods that are mandated to carry a FOPNL.
  • While delayed, the UK plans to ban advertisement of HFSS foods during daytime television, extending from 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM, on both live TV and on-demand programs.
  • Canada has announced intentions to publish regulations in Winter 2024 restricting food and beverage advertisements to children, starting with television and digital media.

Limitations on Product Placement

  • The UK has new regulations banning several forms of promotion for HFSS foods but has also dictated accessibility for these products.
  • On October 1, 2022, The Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021, went into effect that bans:
    • Display and/or promotion of HFSS foods at checkouts, queuing areas, shop entrances, and end caps
    • Display of HFSS foods on an entry page, checkout page or in pop-ups on e-commerce sites
  • Further restrictions on volume and price promotions, including free refills, will enter into force on October 1, 2023.

Front-of-pack nutrition labeling (FOPNL) is another prominent tactic that will be explored in the next BCI Global Insights piece, #3 in our series.

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