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From the CEO
Obesity in the UK is a big fat problem. More than half of over 45 year olds are now living with diet-related health conditions, while poor diet contributes to 64,000 deaths per year in England. The pressure this context puts on the NHS is massive – especially when adding the vast complications and catastrophic impact of COVID.
According to a Public Health England (PHE) study, individuals classed as medically obese have a 40% higher risk of death from coronavirus. These statistics make it clear that action needs to be taken – now and in the long-term – not just by us as individuals, but by the food industry as well.
The National Food Strategy, led by food entrepreneur Henry Dimbleby, sets out a number of initiatives, like the world’s first sugar and salt tax, aimed at motivating manufacturers to make the foods they sell healthier, and for consumers to make healthier choices. Then there’s the pre-watershed advertising ban for high fat sugar salt (HFSS) food and drink.
Naturally, tough measures such as these will send shockwaves through the industry, with ramifications for many manufacturers. The question is, will they work? We recently hosted a roundtable discussion with a number of food-related brands, focused on “breaking the cycle of junk food”. Here’s a little of what was said on the night:
- “Taxes and pricing are easy to change… but habits, convenience and flavour/satisfaction are much, much harder to shift across wide and diverse populations.”
- “Few brands are against taxes on unhealthy foods, but many brands do want a level playing field with similar products grouped and taxed accordingly, based on relative healthiness – not binary good/bad categories, where every ‘unhealthy’ choice is identically ‘bad’ and identically penalised.”
- “It’s easy to imagine healthy trade-offs being easy to make… but in reality, not every consumer has the expendable time, expendable income or kitchen equipment to actually consistently make healthier choices (even where there are visible reasons and incentives to do so).”
For this issue of the F&B Digest, we wanted to uncover more realities about how likely The National Food Strategy measures are to change consumer behaviour, and if there are other, more positive steps brands can take to encourage healthy eating.
We also spoke with F&B brands to find out what kind of impact the government’s crackdown on HFSS will have on them (hint – it’s not all bad news!). And for further insight, there’s a detailed interview with Oddbox, looking at how they’re expanding their waste-reducing vegetable box subscription business across the country.
We hope you enjoy this food for thought. If you have any comments, feedback or alternative takes on any of the content/data, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]