Research by the standards group found that 43% of businesses interviewed felt unprepared for the new legislation, while 70% said that they were not aware that volume promotions would be banned.
A further 20% said they were unaware of the legislation altogether, while just one in three businesses had assessed their products ahead of the October deadline. Less than half of food firms (48%) said they were reformulating existing products to conform with the legislation and around a quarter had not even considered doing so.
More support needed
GS1 UK’s research also highlighted a sense of uneasiness among food and drink manufacturers. Of the businesses surveyed, two-thirds said they needed more financial support from Government to help them adapt – 81% said the new rules would significantly change how they operate.
Commenting on the research, Professor Tim Lang – professor emeritus of food policy at City University of London’s Centre for Food Policy – said: “It’s worrying to see that businesses across the food and drink industry do not feel prepared for the upcoming changes in legislation.
“While the changes will no doubt affect how countless businesses operate, the new legislation is a crucial step toward solving issues around public health. It is however, encouraging to see support for the introduction of the new rules amongst both the industry and the general public.”
Consumer research also found that the legislation might significantly affect the way people shop, given that over half purchased HFSS products regularly. Of those surveyed, 68% said they agreed with the new legislation and up to half of them said it would help them think more about what products to buy.
More than half (51%) of consumers said they would be less likely to buy HFSS products if they were less visible in stores, while a quarter would buy less if they were only available at full price.
GS1 UK chief executive Anne Godfrey added: “While our research reveals that businesses and consumers are aligned on the benefits the changes can bring, the findings show there is much more to be done if the sentiment of the legislation is to become a reality.
“Many businesses feel overwhelmed with the challenges they have faced over the last two years, but there is no doubt that the industry, now more than ever, needs to take a standardised approach for the collection of quality data if they are to adapt quickly and confidently to new legislation and growing consumer demand.”