SRC Response to Scottish Government Consultation on Diet and Obesity

This afternoon the Scottish Government published a consultation document for their new Diet and Obesity Strategy: https://news.gov.scot/news/time-for-bold-action-on-obesity

Responding to the publication of the consultation, Ewan MacDonald-Russell, SRC Head of Policy and External Affairs, said:

“Responsible retailers are committed to supporting the Scottish Government’s ambition to encourage consumers to make healthier choices. As a result there is much which the retail industry can support in the new diet and obesity strategy. It’s positive the excellent work retail has done in leading the drive for product reformulation and clearer customer information being recognised in the strategy. We also welcome the commitment to encouraging Scots to lead healthier and more active lives. “

We would however advise caution on a couple of points. Firstly, policy over the labelling of products is a complicated area. A different Scottish approach to labelling could be confusing to consumers and costly to businesses, and consistency of approach across the UK is desirable.

“Secondly, we understand the Government wishes to take specific action in the out-of-home sector. However, we believe any measures taken in this area must apply to all relevant businesses, it’s only reasonable firms who have taken positive action in this area should be able to compete on a level playing field.  

“Finally, with regards to promotions, we have been clear any measures brought forward must be on a mandatory basis, and it’s positive to see the Scottish Government have accepted that argument.  It’s also encouraging they recognise this is a complicated area which requires clear definitions of the types of food being targeted and a focus on specific types of promotional activity. Government must take care that any measures which limit promotions should be based on clear and relevant evidence which assess the impact of the proposals both on health, but also on consumers so not to unfairly hit hard-pressed households already struggling with inflation and other rising costs.

“There is much which the retail industry can welcome in this consultation. However, the proof of the pudding will be whether the specific ingredients required to deliver a fair, effective, and evidence based strategy come together at the end of the consultation period.”

 

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