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Tesco banishes sweets from all checkouts

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+

22-May-2014
Last updated on 22-May-2014 at 13:56 GMT

Major UK supermarket Tesco has committed to removing sweets and chocolates from all of its checkouts by the end of the year.

Tesco’s CEO Philip Clark said the move would help consumers make healthier choices, after results of its survey found that 65% of its customers thought removing confectionery from checkouts would help them do this.  

Clark said: "We all know how easy it is to be tempted by sugary snacks at the checkout, and we want to help our customers lead healthier lives.”

The new policy will be implemented in its smaller stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, with the ban already being imposed 20 years ago in its larger stores.

Blanket ban?

“For the first time they will be removed from checkouts at all stores, including Tesco Metro and Express convenience stores,” the retailer said.

It said the confectionery would be replaced by “healthier products” that it would be trialling before the changes are fully enforced at the end of December.  

Edward Parks, a spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), told ConfectioneryNews the move was being taken by more British retailers. However he said some supermarkets have taken positive steps with front-of-pack labelling and healthier formulations in private label and other products. 

“Proportionally, you have to ask what you want to get out of removing confectionery,” he said. “Maybe there are more effective ways to tackle obesity head on.”

He said it would be interesting to see if other stores introduced a “blanket ban” across all store formats.  

‘Guilt lanes’

Tesco’s survey found that 67% of parents thought having no confectionery near the checkout would help them make healthier choices for their children.

"We're doing this now because our customers have told us that removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts will help them make healthier choices,” Clark said.

Checkout confectionery has been blamed for the ‘pester power’ experienced when children nag their parents for treat products whilst waiting in line. The move has been backed by campaign website Mumsnet who said shopping with children can be like “navigating an assault course”, it said this policy could make life easier for parents.

Last year these so called ‘guilt lanes’ hit the headlines when UK Conservative public health minister, Anna Soubry, told our sister site, The Grocer, during talks for the UK’s Responsibility Deal that critics of sweet-laden checkouts were talking “nonsense”. She said it was a question of individual responsibility, and down to parents to say no to their children.

Tesco said this was part of “a much wider ongoing effort”. Clark said: "We've already removed billions of calories from our soft drinks, sandwiches and ready meal ranges by changing the recipes to reduce their sugar, salt and fat content. And we will continue to look for opportunities to take out more.” 

Other retailers like Lidl, The Co-op and Sainsbury's have all imposed similar bans, although Sainsbury's has not yet done so in its smaller stores.

Marks & Spencer has said it has a policy to remove checkout confectionery with aesthetics likely to appeal to children from some of its stores, while Morrisons is reportedly reviewing its policy. 

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