Cost or calories? The new British dilemma

This month, the HFSS (High in Fat, Salt, and Sugar) legislation marks its one-year anniversary, sparking a debate on its real-world impact.
04 October 2023
HFSS First Year
Sally Ball

Head of Kantar Worldpanel's Nutrition Service

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As Britain grapples with a cost of living crisis, an unexpected narrative emerges: the inadvertent journey towards better health. The crisis has forced consumers to rethink their buying habits, often leading to healthier choices. This paradox is coupled with generational shifts, as younger Britons opt for 'positive health' over 'managed health' choices, suggesting a pivot to conscientious consumption.

This month, the HFSS (High in Fat, Salt, and Sugar) legislation marks its one-year anniversary, sparking a debate on its real-world impact. While the legislation aimed to steer consumers towards healthier diets, we know there is more at play, especially as the cost of living crisis intertwines with HFSS in interesting ways.

The rise in the consumption of frozen foods, often considered a cost-effective option, is changing what’s on the dinner plate for many. 

Sustainable brands are also playing out differently in this complex landscape, further complicating what consumers view as 'healthy'. And while sustainability often correlates with health, the increasing reliance on processed foods—nearly 45% of our lunch items—reveals a tension between health and convenience.

Further, what people perceive as healthy doesn't always match their actual purchases. Organic and 'free-from' labels often lure consumers into thinking they're making healthier choices when the reality could be a somewhat different story. We’ve been busy understanding the link between intention and purchase. Often, it comes down to what we’re seeing in our consumer usage data.

So, as we approach the anniversary of HFSS legislation, it's clear that a complex web of factors, from economic pressures to sustainability concerns, is shaping British consumer behaviour. While the legislation may not have revolutionised diets, it has contributed to a broader dialogue on what health and sustainable consumption truly mean in today's Britain.

To bring these moving parts together, Kantar’s Healthy Futures Forum is doing as it promised when it launched over a year ago: bringing thought leadership to the table.

Next month, we’re hosting an in-person event in London to discuss where Britain is at on the health front. We’re bringing new data on health and sustainability, our team of experts, cutting-edge academics…and, perhaps most importantly - real consumers to help answer your questions and to hear theirs. It will be incredibly interactive, light on PowerPoint slides and heavy on savvy, real-world discussions.

To join us, sign up here. Seats are limited.


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