Saturday, 26 March 2022

NGOs want 'junk food' promotion ban extended to all meat and fish

UK inflation is already above 6% and the Office for Budget Responsibility expects it to hit 8.7% in the autumn. Awkwardly for the government, and very awkwardly for hard-pressed consumers, the ban on multi-buy food promotions is due to come into force in October. 

Once the ban comes into effect, the government's own modelling suggests that consumers will have to spend an extra £634 per household if they want to keep buying the same basket of goods. The intention of the policy is that people will buy a slightly different basket of goods, of course. Nevertheless, the extra cost is likely to run into several hundred pounds which would not be welcome at any time and especially not when inflation is at a 40 year high. 

There are rumours that the government might back off and at least postpone this misguided initiative. Meanwhile, displaying a staggering inability to read the room, a bunch of NGOs want it to go further.

From the Guardian (where else?)...
UK supermarkets accused of ‘bombarding’ shoppers with cheap meat
Britain’s biggest supermarkets stand accused of “bombarding” shoppers with offers of cheap meat, despite pledging to promote more meat-free diets to improve health and tackle global heating.
The word 'bombarding' is here used in the 'public health' sense, meaning 'to make available at a reasonable price'. 
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons are each offering scores of deals every week on meat products such as burgers and sausages to drive sales and boost their profits, according to a report from the charity Eating Better.
Because cutting prices is the obvious way to boost profits, isn't it? It's not as if they're in a fiercely competitive industry or anything?

The report also discloses that only 1% of the many hundreds of multi-buy offers for meat products examined by researchers will be banned when the government’s crackdown on the promotion of foodstuffs that are high in fat, salt or sugar – to tackle childhood obesity – begins in October. 
Newspapers usually refer to this as a ban on promotions for 'junk food'. Tellingly, that phrase is not used here because most people, quite rightly, do not consider meat to be junk food. That is why the government has excluded meat from its list of HFSS food despite meat sometimes being high in fat. It has to make exemptions because the full list of what activist-academics consider to be junk food is preposterous.

“Supermarkets are bombarding us with Bogof [buy one, get one free] burgers, sausages and cheap chicken of unknown origin, putting profit before population health and that of the planet,” said Simon Billing, Eating Better’s executive director.

“The Big Four are contradicting their own commitments by encouraging customers to buy more meat than they would have if it hadn’t been on promotion.

“The impact of this is that we’re eating more meat than we need, or is good for us. Pushing cheap meat into our baskets also supports intensive animal farming, which is wrecking the planet, emitting a huge amount of greenhouse gas and requiring massive amounts of our precious resources, such as land and water.”

Tough. The legislation was supposed to be about childhood obesity, remember? 

Once the government capitulated to one bunch of fanatics, it was inevitable that wowsers of every stripe would line up with their agendas. The demands of the Eating Better coalition are even more extreme than the Guardian suggests. If you look at their report, their recommendation to policy-makers is...

Include all meat and fish products in scope of the Food (Promotion and Placement) Regulation, since increasing their consumption is undesirable from both an environmental and a health perspective

The legislation hasn't even come into effect and yet the usual arrogant, largely state-funded NGOs want a ban that was supposed to discourage children eating too many crisps to be extended to fish.

In the current climate, I don't see them getting very far with these demands, but it will no doubt be seen as "the next logical step" and we know that the ratchet of paternalism only turns in one direction.

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