Welcome to RPC Bites. Our aim in the next 2 minutes is to give you a taste of some key legal, regulatory and business developments in the food and beverage sector over the past fortnight… with some occasional industry gossip added. for good measure. Enjoy!!
On June 13, 2022, and following an independent review led by Leon’s co-founder, Henry Dimbleby, the government released its food strategy (Policy Paper here) (the Strategy). The strategy follows a comprehensive review of the UK food system and Mr Dimbleby’s recommendations to achieve the delivery of “safe, healthy and affordable food; no matter where (people) live or how much they earn“. For more information on Mr. Dimbleby’s recommendations, see the 2021 Summer Bumper Edition by RPC Bites.
While the strategy reflects many of Mr Dimbleby’s recommendations, one notable omission is the proposed tax on salt and sugar. In support of this and in recognition of the current cost of living crisis, Prime Minister Boris Johnson explained “What we don’t want to do now is start imposing new taxes on them that will only increase the cost of food.“
However, the lack of tax and the strategy in general have been heavily criticized by various health and sustainability organizations, with some dubbing it “watered down“. As for Mr. Dimbley himself, while he would have noted that the strategy represents “some progress“, he also judged him “not a strategy as suchand criticized its failure to satisfactorily address a number of issues, including free school meals and reduced meat consumption.
With the strategy still fresh off the press, we’ll provide updates in future issues of RPC Bites as the debate (inevitably) continues.
Launch of combination of low and non-alcoholic drinks in the UK
The Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association (ANBA), a North American-based trade association for the soft drinks industry, was launched in the UK and Europe. ANBA aims to improve business guidelines and address the lack of universal regulations. So far, a number of companies have signed up as members, including Lucky Saint, Big Drop Brewing, Lyre’s and Ish Spirits.
According to ANBA’s press release, the global soft drinks market will be worth approximately $30 billion (or £24 billion) by 2025. Lyre’s CEO, who will chair the board of the ‘ANBA, said that with market share growing faster than regulation, ANBA’has an important task to ensure that the regulatory landscapes remain fair and give consumers confidence in the quality of the products offered by our members.“
Cuthbert the caterpillar is back on sale in Aldi stores following the supermarket’s settlement of the dispute with M&S earlier this year.
As reported in issues 29 and 43 from RPC Bites, the novelty cake sold by Aldi was the subject of controversy last year after M&S sued Aldi, arguing that the similarities between Cuthbert and M&S’s Colin the Caterpillar amounted to infringement brand and deception. The dispute between M&S and Aldi was settled out of court and an M&S spokesperson said they were “very happy with the result“.
Cuthbert’s return to the shelves comes with a new design: a reformulated chocolate face and a bow tie. Aldi is heavily marketing Cuthbert’s comeback using the hashtag “CuthBack” and, in a nod to its caterpillar cousin, the slogan “Colin all cake fans“.
As reported in Number 47 from RPC Bites, the government decided to delay the implementation of HFSS restrictions on price promotions, citing the cost of living crisis as the main driver.
Despite the postponement, last month Tesco announced it would still discontinue its multi-buy promotions on HFSS products from October this year, in line with its understanding that consumers want to eat healthier. This is supported by a recent study, which found that 49% of respondents wanted to consume “healthier, vegan and sustainable” some products.
Sainsbury’s also released a statement, saying it would also stick to its original plan to remove promotions on HFSS products by autumn. Sainsbury’s has been working to reduce the amount of unhealthy food on its shelves since 2016, and in 2021 around 60% of its offerings were for healthier products.
Morrisons is taking a different approach to the HFSS delay and said it would keep many multi-buy offers available in stores beyond the original October 2022 deadline. The supermarket said it had made a voluntary reformulation to reduce sugar and salt in many of its own-brand products and that many of its promotions were already for healthier foods.
Tesco is the latest retailer to face ASA criticism for ‘greenwashing’. Tesco has released a series of TV, print and social media ads suggesting buying its Plant Chef burgers could help customers”make a difference for the planet.“After receiving more than 170 complaints, the ASA found there was insufficient evidence to support the claims and concluded that the advertisements were likely to mislead.
The CAP Code requires environmental claims to be based on the full life cycle of the advertised product and an advertisement is likely to be considered misleading”in the absence of solid evidence to support a claim“. In response to the complaints, Tesco said it relied on evidence from academic experts and the scientific community to reach the conclusion that a plant-based diet is better for the planet, and that this view could be understood.While the ASA expressed some sympathy for Tesco, it acknowledged that processed plant-based products with ingredients sourced from around the world can still have a negative environmental impact.
Tesco has been ordered to ensure that adverts no longer appear in the offending form and that future adverts do not make environmental claims unless Tesco has sufficient evidence to back them up.
Dutch vertical farming company, OneFarm, has announced plans to open a new vertical farm in Suffolk next year. The farm will cover an area of 6,400 m² and produce around 415 tons of food each year, including herbs and salad leaves. The OneFarm facility will be fully covered, producing fresh food in vertical growing towers that minimize the amount of soil and water needed. The proceeds will primarily be used to supply commercial catering groups and home delivery recipe boxes.
The OneFarm CEO highlighted the company’s consumer philosophy and “focus on environmental and economic sustainabilityin the food production sector; the company intends to open up to 25 indoor farms over the next few years. OneFarm is not the only vertical farming company planning to grow in the UK: Jones Food Company and Fischer Farms have announced plans to open vertical farms, in Gloucester and Norfolk respectively.