Consumers warn government off meddling with food and beverage promotions

Will Kreznick

03 Feb 2021 — Concerns are growing among UK consumers that if the government eliminates some in-store food promotions, their shopping bills will rapidly rise. A survey commissioned by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has found that 73 percent of in-store shoppers say they usually or always purchase products […]

03 Feb 2021 — Concerns are growing among UK consumers that if the government eliminates some in-store food promotions, their shopping bills will rapidly rise. A survey commissioned by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has found that 73 percent of in-store shoppers say they usually or always purchase products on promotion when shopping. Meanwhile, a quarter (25 percent) of respondents suggested that if there were no promotions, they would be concerned about their shopping affordability.

Nearly two-thirds of participants (62 percent) also agreed that promotions are an important way to save money on food and beverages , with almost three-quarters of participants (72 percent) wanting promotions to continue, finding them useful for saving money, stock up on food for the future and trying new products.

 The findings come following news that the UK government remains committed to plans that would restrict promotions, including multi-buys and buy-one-get-one-free deals – commonly known as “BOGOF” in Britain. 

Last year, the government announced its “Tackling Obesity” plans stating that it has decided to introduce legislation to restrict promotions of products that are high in saturated fat, salt or sugar. 

The government intends to lay legislation by mid-2021 and is consulting further with local authorities and business representatives on how the policy should be enforced.

However, these plans are at odds with how UK consumers relate to in-store food and beverage promotions, according to the BritainThinks survey. 

Click to Enlarge

Survey results demonstrate that a large majority of in-store shoppers use promotions as a way to save money on their food and drink shopping.

Saving money through promotions 
“The survey results clearly demonstrate that a large majority of in-store shoppers use promotions as a way to save money on their food and drink shopping. We’re extremely concerned that removing these promotions will add to the household’s food bill,” says the FDF’s chief scientific officer, Kate Halliwell.

“There is evidence that during a recession, many people increasingly rely on promotions to help them save money. It’s predicted that the average shopping basket may increase by £600 (US$818) a year without promotions in retail. We have already seen evidence of rising food costs. At the start of lockdown, we saw a spike of 2.4 percent increase in food prices, fuelled by a 15 percent fall in promotions which accounted for over half of this inflationary spike,” she notes. 

“We urge the government to consider these findings as they press on with their plans to restrict retail promotions and think about the impact this may have on the shopping basket and for shoppers during an incredibly difficult economic time.”

FDF commissioned the survey to understand public attitudes and behaviors in relation to food and drink shopping. They surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 2,024 adults, with data weighted to be representative by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade. 

Edited by Gaynor Selby


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