Kellogg’s has failed in a legal challenge against regulations that would ban it from promoting sugar-filled cereals with buy one, get one free (Bogof) offers.
The company, whose brands include Corn Flakes, Coco Pops and Frosties, had argued the government’s inclusion of Kellogg’s cereals among “less healthy” foods was unfair because it did not take into account the milk that was usually added them.
In a judgment on Monday, Mr Justice Linden dismissed the claim, finding that the addition of milk would not affect the fact that the cereal was high in sugar. He also rejected the company’s claim that the government did not consult parliament properly.
Kellogg’s UK, which is owned by the New York-listed Kellogg Company, said it would not appeal against the ruling.
The government has brought in regulations limiting the promotion of foods that are “high in fat, salt and sugar” (HFSS) in supermarkets and other large retailers as part of its efforts to curb obesity.
The regulations were to come into effect in October alongside a ban on junk food advertising on TV before 9pm. But in May, Boris Johnson decided to delay their implementation, reportedly in an effort to alleviate the cost of living crisis. The measures could be scrapped altogether.
The celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has campaigned for healthier food for children, criticised the delay, saying it was a blow to efforts to tackle obesity in the UK.
As well as restrictions on offers, such as Bogof, and TV advertising, the measures also forbid online or app promotions, including putting such foods on internet homepages or showing them when consumers are looking for other items. They also include a ban on the prominent display of HFSS food near the front of stores, which will still come into place in October.
Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut, Frosties and Fruit ‘n Fibre are all counted as high in fat, salt and sugar.
Chris Silcock, the managing director of Kellogg’s UK, said the company was disappointed with the verdict and said companies could charge “potentially higher prices”.
“It makes little sense to us that consumers will be able to buy other products, like doughnuts and chocolate spreads, on promotion – but not many types of breakfast cereals,” he said.
“We still believe that it is important that cereals are measured in a way which reflects how most people eat them – with milk. We also remain concerned at the way the government introduced these regulations, which, in our view, was without proper parliamentary scrutiny.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The judgment backs the government’s approach to restricting the promotion of less healthy breakfast cereals, which contribute a significant amount of sugar to children’s diets.
“Location promotion restrictions will come into force in October 2022 and are expected to deliver over £57bn of health benefits. Together with the volume price restrictions, these changes will protect children up and down the country from products high in saturated fat, sugar or salt.”