Holyrood invites stores to take sweets and drinks off the tills
THE Scottish Government has again said it wants retailers to take all confectionery away from traditional impulse-purchase promotional areas at or near store tills. And it has added sugar-containing soft drinks to its list of products to be banished from checkouts and queue management areas.
The latest Scottish Government statement came in its Supporting Healthy Choices framework document – described as an invitation to retailers, caterers and the food industry to work “in partnership with government in Scotland” to achieve better diet-related health outcomes, especially for children It was issued on the same day that a scientific committee advising the Westminster Government and public health bodies in England said the population should slash its added-sugar intake.
Scotland’s main c-store representative group the Scottish Grocers’ Federation has signalled that it is willing to sign up to the programme, given its emphasis on voluntary partnership, which it sees as more acceptable in tone than previous government positions. But it intends to meet with suppliers and other industry stakeholders to work out how far it might be possible to go.
The framework document makes a series of suggestions and lists goals about formulation of foods, promotions, meal deals, and restaurant menus.
But, at the top of its list of the commitments it wants those who sign up to the framework to give, it says: “We invite retailers and out-of-home caterers to take pragmatic steps to remove confectionery and sugary drinks from till points, checkout aisles and areas around checkouts.”
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation said it noted that removal of sugary drinks from till areas had been added to proposed marketing restrictions that it had viewed as highly controversial when first raised in 2013.
But the group was pleased that the overall tone of the framework was now “more aspirational than prescriptive” and that “it sets a direction of travel rather than imposing compulsory compliance on retailers”.
SGF has given its support to the framework and will encourage members to make fresh fruit available at tills, replacing some confectionery where practical.
But chief executive John Drummond said: “Changing consumers’ eating habits will not happen overnight and there are key issues here about the role of parents, an active lifestyle and education.”
SGF’s new president, Abdul Majid has been the driving force behind SGF’s Obesity Round Table event, with key suppliers, to be held in Glasgow on 28 July. Issues from the event will be discussed with first minister Alex Salmond at a meeting with him on 7 August.