Tesco will ban ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ (BOGOF) offers on unhealthy food and drinks this autumn despite a government decision to delay a crackdown on junk food deals for another year.
The supermarket said it will remove promotions on food and drink that have a high fat, salt or sugar content from October this year.
The decision comes despite an about-turn by ministers this month which pushed back a ban on BOGOF or three-for-two offers for unhealthy foods until October 2023 because of the “unprecedented” squeeze on living standards.
TV advertisements on junk food will also be forbidden before 9am from January 2024 as part of the Government’s attempts to crackdown on obesity.
Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care said they wanted to assess the impact of the ban on household finances as families face a cost-of-living crisis.
Tesco said it has been cutting back on promotions for several years and there would not be a need for shoppers to hunt for multi-buys as it already offers “reliable low prices”.
Jason Tarry, Tesco’s UK and Republic of Ireland chief, said: “Our mission is to make Tesco the easiest place to shop for a healthy, more sustainable basket – while keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check.”
Industry experts have welcomed the delay to the ban saying it would give the sector more time to prepare for a change in the law.
Steve Dresser, a director at Grocery Insight, described Tesco’s move as “another check-mate, just like when they handed business rates back”.
During the pandemic, the grocer effectively bounced competitors into paying back the rates relief, worth more than £2bn in total, after it became the first chain to return the payment because it was allowed to stay open during lockdowns.
Mr Dresser added that it could also be more difficult logistically to add the promotions back into the system rather than just press ahead with the proposed changes.
However, health campaigners including the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver have attacked the Government over the delay, accusing Boris Johnson of “playing politics” with children’s health.
Mr Oliver called the delay a “wasted opportunity” that “erode[s] the whole obesity strategy”.
Last month, Kellogg’s took the Government to court over the new laws.
The Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes claimed the sugar content of its cereals should be measured after milk is added, and was fighting to get some of the criteria changed.