Supporting Healthy Choices: A Framework for Voluntary Action

This framework sets out the action we believe is necessary to shape and better support healthier diets in Scotland.

Offerings and promotions

Retail offerings and promotions

34. In Scotland, at least three-quarters of kilocalories come from food and drink purchased in retail settings. Consumers seek value for money, especially in the current financial climate. The food and drink industry can encourage healthier choices by tailoring its standard offering and promotional activities.

35. Food and drink offerings and promotions are valuable tools in encouraging sales. As such, they have enormous potential to promote a healthy balanced diet, as illustrated by the eatwell plate[13], as well as support achievement of the Scottish Dietary Goals.

36. While there are many promotional deals on healthy options like fruit and vegetables, there remains a significant amount of promotions on foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar.

37. Given the overwhelming evidence of our population's overconsumption of fat, salt and sugar, which are especially worrying in children, we would like to see a greater proportion of offerings and promotions which better support healthier choices and the Scottish Dietary Goals.

Commitment 4

We invite retailers to rebalance their food and drink offering and promotions[14], both in-store and online, to positively support consumers to make healthier choices.

38. Positive promotion of the foods and drinks listed in Annex C, coupled with fewer promotions of high fat, salt and sugar foods, will help encourage consumers to take steps toward choosing a healthier diet. Food labelling and reformulation activity will also help to facilitate change. We invite retailers, regardless of size, within stores and across online channels, to make a corporate commitment on the proportion of their promotions which support healthier diets. There is no minimum expectation for what this proportion should be, and we hope that retailers will be ambitious and challenging in the levels they set. We will monitor the balance of food and drink promotions as detailed in paragraph 19.

39. We recognise that some food and drink businesses are already taking action to increase the proportion of promotions and offers on healthier products. We welcome this activity and encourage businesses to build on this further.

40. We recognise that changes can bring challenges for small businesses in accessing support and expertise. For this reason, the Scottish Government is committed to continued funding and support for the Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme to assist small retailers and convenience stores. In May 2013, the Healthy Living Programme introduced a new focus on increasing the promotion of foods and drinks which support healthier diets and the Scottish Dietary Goals building on its initial fruit and vegetable promotions.

Out of home catering offerings and promotions

41. The out of home catering sector can also play an important role in shaping promotions to support healthier diets for the general population. We therefore invite out of home catering businesses, regardless of size, to take specific action to rebalance their promotional activity.

Commitment 5

We invite out of home caterers to make a corporate commitment to no longer ask customers if they wish to purchase a larger option.

Commitment 6

We invite out of home caterers to encourage healthier components in meal promotions. Guidance is provided at Annex B.

Commitment 7

We invite out of home caterers to offer water, reduced fat milk, sugarfree drinks and fruit/vegetable options as default standard meal deal components.

Marketing and advertising

42. Recipe for Success first indicated our commitment to looking at potential work on food and drink marketing and advertising. This theme was picked up again in the Preventing Overweight and Obesity Route Map, which highlights the following areas:

  • food packaging (use of characters, on pack promotions, sponsorship links to programmes and events)
  • in-store marketing activity (product placement, value deals, sponsorship links to programmes and events, point of sale displays)
  • non-broadcast media advertising (printed media, texts, outdoor, posters, cinema, video on demand, online advertisements in paid-for-space, sales promotions, links to social media sites)
  • broadcast media advertising (television and radio including advertisements, product placement, programme sponsorship, prize competitions).

Commitment 8

We invite the food industry and other relevant partners to work with Scottish Government to consider how we can build upon existing practice on the responsible marketing of food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar in order to reduce children's exposure to messaging.

43. In November 2011, the Scottish Government, with the Institute for Social Marketing at Stirling University, held an expert workshop, bringing together health professionals, policy makers, international experts from the WHO and the EU alongside representatives from the food and advertising industry, to look specifically at advertising and marketing aimed at children. Overall, the workshop concluded that a formal Standard provided a suitable middle-ground between regulation and self-regulation.

44. Unfortunately, efforts to develop a Scottish standard on the responsible marketing of food and drink were unsuccessful. However, we welcome that all parties remain committed to engagement on this issue, especially in relation to the protection of children from marketing of food that is high in fat, salt and sugar.

45. We recognise the significant steps taken by Ofcom to restrict broadcast marketing to children of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS). We also note the work the Advertising Standards Authority has done to ensure that advertising across all media does not undermine progress towards national dietary improvement by misleading or confusing consumers. We are aware that there is a considerable amount of work by industry with regard to marketing in Europe[15] and recognise that several companies have made unilateral commitments to limit their marketing impact on children and this should be encouraged.

46. We invite partners to work with us to consider how we can learn from, and develop, that existing practice to further reduce children's exposure to marketing of high fat, salt and sugar products. As a first step, we intend to convene a working group of key stakeholders to consider current practice, identify any gaps and consider what further practical action can be taken that will result in a meaningful and measurable reduction while ensuring that businesses maintain their competitiveness. We intend to convene the first meeting of this working group by Autumn 2014.


Email: Leigh Edwardson

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