Tesco sweet-free checkouts: Can 'healthy snacks' fill the void?

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Tesco has implemented rules on products listed in place of candy and chocolate at the checkouts, including no 'red' traffic light ratings
Tesco has implemented rules on products listed in place of candy and chocolate at the checkouts, including no 'red' traffic light ratings

Related tags Snack makers Nutrition

Tesco UK has rolled-out its sweet-free checkout policy across convenience stores leaving space for snack makers to gobble up share, but some listing rules have been touted ‘deplorable’ by industry.

The move will see Tesco Metro and Express convenience stores across the country ditch chocolate and confectionery at the checkouts in favor of a number of alternatives, from healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit and cereal bars to non-food items like skincare products and deodorant. The retailer already ditched confections from checkouts at its large stores in 1994.

The move away from confections opens up opportunities for new product listings in the space, but Tesco has implemented stringent rules. Products have to be either one of your five a day, be in calorie-controlled snack packs, adhere to the Department of Health’s (DoH) definition of a ‘healthier snack’​ or have no ‘red’ traffic light ratings.

What about nuts?

Sebastian Emig, director-general of the European Snacks Association (ESA), said the latter rule was “deplorable”​ because it would prevent many nut and seed products being stocked at the checkouts due to red labeling for fat content. 

“Regardless of the fact that front-of-pack labeling shows red for fat on these products, it doesn’t make distinctions between saturated and unsaturated fats.Nuts have many nutrition claims, for walnuts there is even one health claim, and if [Tesco] is not going to give that opportunity for consumers to access these products at the checkout that will be a real pity. It would be great if Tesco could look into that again – that would be my plea,”​ he told BakeryandSnacks.com. 

Walnut EFSA Health Claim

walnuts istock

Walnuts have a health claim under the EC's Article 13 Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 relating to cholesterol health. Manufacturers can claim: “Walnuts contribute to the improvement of endothelium-dependent vasolidation”.

Tesco explained it did have plans to stock nut and fruit mixes at the checkouts as part of the healthier offering and a spokesperson told this site the range would be under continuous review of branded and own-label options. 

Do snack makers want to be at the checkouts?

Emig said for the majority of snack makers, checkouts were unlikely a priority.

“We’re not necessarily fighting that much for the checkout; we have specific savory snack aisles in many big chains like Tesco, Carrefour and so on and this is somewhere where obviously the snack makers want to be,”​ he said.

“…I wouldn’t say this move presents a significant opportunity for snack makers because the biggest margins are still being done on the specific savory snack aisles in supermarkets. It could be a nice top-up, but it depends how Tesco is defining that space and what the policy is going to be.”

However, for those snack makers interested in targeting the space at Tesco convenience stores, he said there would have to be certain focuses.

“Obviously the producers should be marketing the product with front-of-pack messages like ‘less salt’, ‘less fat’, ‘light’, ‘gluten-free’ – you name it. For a product with improved nutritional composition, this should be highlighted,” ​he said.

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