Changing trends in HFSS shopping requires suppliers to revisit purchase hierarchies & get better understanding of shoppers’ decision-making processes, industry specialist advises.

With research showing that sales of HFSS-compliant products are proving to be more resilient than their non-compliant equivalents in the fresh food, frozen and impulse categories, FMCG suppliers are being advised to revisit their  purchase hierarchies to ensure they understand where health now sits in the shopper’s decision-making process.

That’s the advice from FMCG and retail specialist Bridgethorne, following a report from NIQ for The Grocer, which showed HFSS-compliant volumes falling more slowly than non-compliant volumes in fresh food – down 5.3% versus 6.8%. This trend was mirrored in the frozen category, where volumes of HFSS-compliant products fell 2.3%, with non-compliant lines falling at a more significant 8.9%. The biggest contrast was in impulse where volume sales of HFSS-compliant products were up 5.6% with volumes of non-compliant equivalents remaining flat.

“The evidence from this research clearly suggests that the ban on products high in fat, sugar or salt products is having an impact in driving a shift towards healthier food,” says Gina Overton, Director, Bridgethorne.

“However, it’s not a straightforward picture. Research from Lumina Intelligence earlier this year found that shoppers’ focus was overwhelmingly on value with health having slipped down their list of priorities. This was attributed in part to the cost-of-living crisis, with healthier products perceived to be more expensive.

“This landscape presents both a challenge and an opportunity for suppliers, who clearly need to understand where shoppers are in their thinking and plan for the implications of these changing trends for their own businesses and their retailer relationships.” 

Suppliers, Overton says, need to quickly adapt to this changing environment. 

“Suppliers need to understand the dynamics at play and what is influencing shopper purchasing decisions. That’s where insights are critical in helping suppliers genuinely understand what is motivating shopper behaviour and plan accordingly so that, together with their retail partners, they best placed to influence it.”

Simply supplying great products is no longer enough. Extracting the best insights from data and turning them into plans that resonate with buyers and then, through ideation sessions, developing joint initiatives for sales and category growth as a way of engaging with shoppers for mutual benefit should be part of everyone’s planning.”

Bridgethorne uses its experience and connections across FMCG and Retail environments to deliver outcome-focused, practically led processes and tools that deliver new thinking and approaches, enabling clients and their partners to be leaders in their sectors.


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