Sainsbury’s forced to axe baby milk loyalty points

Sainsbury’s is to stop including baby milk in its Reward Card loyalty scheme after new guidelines said it could be illegal.

Trading standards officers were forced to overturn an earlier decision to allow baby milk on retailers’ loyalty schemes (MW April 24) after pressure from lobby group Baby Milk Action.

The marketing of baby milk is tightly controlled, as medical experts believe it is healthier for babies to be breast-fed, rather than using infant formulae.

Price promotion of baby milk is strictly forbidden. But Baby Milk Action says the inclusion of baby milk in loyalty schemes is a way for supermarkets to circumvent the law.

Sainsbury’s says it will stop including baby milk in its loyalty scheme when it introduces new checkout technology at the end of this year. The new technology will allow it to automatically exclude products from being given loyalty points.

Until then, customers will not receive bonus discounts if they buy baby milk on its own. But if their shopping includes other products, the baby milk discount will go through.

Sainsbury’s U-turn follows the issuing of new guidelines by trading standards officers last week, interpreting laws on the marketing of baby milk which were introduced in 1995. The guidelines have taken two years to compile, as the trading standards body clashed with Baby Milk Action, which says it has not been tough enough on manufacturers and retailers.

Supermarket chain Somerfield stopped including baby milk on its Premier Points loyalty card earlier this year, after a Marketing Week investigation revealed it could be breaking the law.

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