30 September 2021

We’re probably all guilty of those impulse, indulgent purchases. But with the new HFSS legislation looming, we’ve been wondering what grocery retail will look like when the new rules kick in.

Change is coming, so what can we expect to see in-store? Let’s explore the possibilities…

What is HFSS?

Let’s start at the beginning, what exactly is HFSS? In short, it’s a policy to restrict the way in which products high in fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS products for short) such as confectionery, crisps and pastries are sold and promoted to consumers.

The policy is intended to reduce excess purchases and overconsumption of HFSS products and aims to encourage retailers to provide healthier options in key selling locations, enabling consumers to make healthier and more varied choices in their purchases.

When is the new HFSS legislation happening?

HFSS has been postponed until October 2022 and when it happens, it’s going to be the biggest change to retail since… well ever!

Until then, brands and retailers are on the edge of their seats awaiting final confirmation of the rules so they can start to plan in-store promotions. It seems the new HFSS rules are much like before BREXIT happened, we don’t actually know exactly what’s going to happen, until it happens.

What we’re sure about…

That said, there are some things about the new HFSS legislation that we do know, so there seems like a good place for us to start.

Retail point of sale found in the aisle will increase. Think shelf-highlighters, impactful graphics, digital signage, interactive display and all other types of in-aisle point of sale.

Brands are already testing new retail POS concepts, with the look at rolling out what works across a much larger scale.

Categories will get even more competitive. With limited placement opportunities available, some categories will get busy, so it’s important for them to find a way of giving shoppers a reason to want to pick them over the noise of other brands.

Busy categories will also lead to a complex job for retail buyers as they need to ensure a balance to attract and not overwhelm shoppers. Brands will be fighting hard for attention, in-aisle point of sale could get really interesting.

Store foyers and Gondola Ends will look very different. Shopper are familiar with seeing HFSS products in these high-footfall spaces. From October 2022 these areas will look very different, with the welcoming of healthier, non-HFSS products.

What about HFSS and seasonal campaigns?

The store entrance will appear significantly different for seasonal campaigns such as Easter, Diwali and Christmas. The same can be said for sporting events and tournaments, which typically see fun, themed soft drinks, or alcohol displays. Without the ability to create impactful WOW displays on entrance to a store, HFSS brands will have to find other ways of disrupting the shopper journey.

The new HFSS legislation will potentially lead to alternative categories entering the store entrance display space, such as entertainment and electronics. Whilst other categories that are often present on a smaller scale may be given the opportunity to scale up, such as ‘Back to School’ stationery or ‘World Book Day’.

What we’re expecting to see…

We’ve gone all mystic meg to predict what we think grocery retail will look like when the HFSS legislation kicks in. Here’s what we think is possible…

Around the checkout

We think that you can expect to see a much more varied range of products at the checkout, such as healthcare, beauty, and household.

It’s also possible that we will see an increase in the snack and drinks brands that already comply with the new HFSS regulations, like Carabao energy drinks.

This high-impulse purchase location could also see individual fruits made available as a quick-snack product.

Gondola ends

On average, just under half of gondola ends across UK grocery retailers display HFSS products. From October 2022, several other categories including beer, wine, and spirits (BWS), coffee and tea, spreads, baking, toys, and pets will be able to benefit from these areas, potentially growing their in-store space.


Implementation of the HFSS legislation could also see smaller, complimentary brands collaborate to gain visibility in-store and increase their brand awareness.

What can brands do about HFSS?

Many brands are being proactive and looking at recipe revisions and even new product development (NPD) that fall within the HFSS rules. What we hope won’t happen is that some of our nation’s favourite treats will become unrecognisable.

What about the supermarkets?

The HFSS legislation is a BIG change for both brands and retailers, so surely there must be something that the retailers can do to help the brands out, right?

Well, the answer is maybe, yes. Although seen as a pretty big shake-up, supermarkets could change the layout of the stores entirely, making the aisles longer and removing the Gondola ends from the middle of the store. Additional bays would create rentable space for new products or seasonal displays, so almost creating the equivalent of a gondola end within the aisle.

Watch this space! It’s going to be interesting.

Would you like to speak to a Retail Design Specialist about how the HFSS legislation could affect you?

We’d be happy to help! Our retail design specialists are ready to help you create a retail display that delivers to your objectives and remains within budget.

Want to see what we can do? Take a look at our portfolio

Please contact our sales team on 01530 839777 or email info@threepd.co.uk

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