HFSS Proposals and the Impact on Kids’ Healthy Snacking

The government’s new HFSS proposals are set to have a massive impact on food brands, retailers and consumers. Change is hard, but it’s also an opportunity for smaller, nimbler brands to get ahead of the curve. The current start date for the new restrictions is October 2022.

What are the HFSS Proposals?

The government is introducing new legislation to restrict the ways brands can promote foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). The policy aims to encourage people to make healthier choices, leading to a drop in obesity levels.

If you’re a brand with products that are HFSS, retailers will no longer be able to place your products at store entrances, aisle ends or by the checkouts. Stores will also no longer be allowed to run price promotions like ‘buy one get one free’ on HFSS products.

There are certain exceptions. For example, HFSS restrictions will not apply to smaller stores with fewer than 50 employees. You can find out whether a product is HFSS-compliant (or not) by consulting the government’s 2004/2005 Nutrient Profiling Model.

Why are these Proposals Important?

The HFSS proposals aim to cut obesity – and I’m sure we all agree that something needs to be done on this. Two-thirds of adults weigh more than is healthy, but it’s in the children’s space - where SNACKZILLA operates - that we need to do the most work. A staggering one in three kids now leave primary school overweight or obese. 

Most kids love biscuits and cookies (so do many adults). But, our love of sweet treats is causing a childhood obesity crisis in the UK. It’s no surprise that the government wants to make biscuits, puddings, cakes, chocolate confectionery and a whole raft of other treats less visible in stores. Research shows that consumers buy 20% more sugary products as a result of in-store promotions. Perhaps reducing ‘pester power’ will mean parents can make healthier choices for their kids.

How will HFSS Impact Retailers?

The new rules will have a dramatic impact on retailers. Negotiating promotional deals with brands is an integral part of how they do business, while many stores will have to change their layouts and the types of goods they display in prominent areas.

With Epicurium helping supporting listings with Independents, I’m launching the SNACKZILLA brand into supermarkets, so I’m talking to buyers regularly. When I first started dealing with supermarkets a year ago, most buyers didn’t know what HFSS was. However, they’re finally starting to catch up and understand the importance. From board level downwards, they understand that the legislation is happening, like it or not. They’re working out how it will affect their bottom line and how they must adapt.

Why is HFSS an Opportunity for Challenger Brands?

The HFSS regulations present brands with a choice, whether you’re a start-up like SNACKZILLA or one of the giants. You can: 

 1. Carry on making your products in the same way you’ve always done (but you won’t be able to run promotions or sit in the best display positions in the store)

  2. Reformulate your recipes

  3. Or develop new, healthier products to sit in your existing portfolio

I know from experience that reformulating a recipe is hard - because I’ve done it. When I created SNACKZILLA, I took the oat cookie recipe my Great Grandmother made when I was a child and adapted it so it would be HFSS-compliant, but still taste fantastic. 

Taking a product inherently high in fat, calories and sugar and making it healthier was tricky, to say the least. Retaining moisture using a blend of unsaturated fat and fibres was extremely hard, and it took two years of trial and error to make our cookies HFSS-compliant.

The big confectionary and biscuit companies will need to make some big decisions on how to proceed. But, while they’re doing that, challenger brands who are more nimble and can develop new ideas quickly have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

The Snackzilla Story

I started work on bringing SNACKZILLA to market three years ago. My boys were 7 and 4 at the time and loved snacks, but I couldn’t find anything that suited them. They had grown out of the baby and toddler snacking products, but there was nothing really for their age in terms of branding that would taste good and fill them up – not without being covered in sugar anyway! 

So, I took my Great Grandmother’s oat cookie recipe and reformulated it to take that sugar down, without adding anything artificial, to make a healthier product that I know my boys would love - and SNACKZILLA was born.

While launching just before the pandemic wasn’t great timing, we used the time to test, adapt and refine the product, so it’s better than ever. Now, we’re fortunate to be growing our brand at a time when ending childhood obesity is a government priority, as illustrated by the new HFSS regulations.

Since we reformulated the product, a SNACKZILLA cookie is now under 99 calories, higher in fibre and lower in sugar. We achieved Change4Life accreditation, so we can display the ‘Good choice’ thumbs-up badge. It’s also allowed us to bring our RRP down.

But most of all, SNACKZILLA is about fun. We want to be the snack that kids demand in their lunchbox and when they are out and about, because they love the taste and enjoy the silly jokes on the packaging. At the same time, parents can give in to their kids’ pester power, because SNACKZILLA is a healthier version of something they love. 

Ordering Non HFSS Snacks with Epicurium

There are many amazing, innovative, fast-growing food and drink brands in the UK. As experts in tasty and interesting snacks, you can get the best challenger and new snacks from the most innovative brands from us. With independent brands stealing a march on the more established brand names, driven by authenticity and quality. Now more than ever you need to differentiate your offer. With a quick turnaround of 24-48 hours, no minimum order number and free delivery on any order over £80, our team here at Epicurium can have you tapping into freshest healthy snacks in no time.




  1. Consultation outcome: Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt by location and by price: government response to public consultation. Updated 19 July 2021
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/restricting-promotions-of-food-and-drink-that-is-high-in-fat-sugar-and-salt/outcome/restricting-promotions-of-products-high-in-fat-sugar-and-salt-by-location-and-by-price-government-response-to-public-consultation
  3. The Nutrient Profiling Model https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-nutrient-profiling-model
  4. Sugar Reduction, from evidence to action https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sugar-reduction-from-evidence-into-action

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