Skip to main content

SoCal City Bans Junk Food From Supermarket Checkout Aisles

Healthy Checkout Ordinance encourages big-name grocery stores to stock healthier options
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
junk food
Grocers in Perris, Calif., will soon be limited to selling healthy snacks and drinks near the register.

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, supermarkets in Perris, Calif., will be required to remove chips, candy and other junk foods from the checkout aisle.

Earlier this year, Perris' City Council passed the Healthy Checkout Ordinance in a unanimous vote. Specific to supermarkets larger than 2,500 square feet, the ordinance requires grocers to provide healthy food and beverage items as the “default” option at checkout aisles. Snacks and drinks with more than 200 calories or high in trans fats will be removed from within six feet of the register and replaced with healthier options like salads, nuts and fruits.

[Read more: “Kicking Bad Food Habits”]

"This program will help our residents maintain a healthy lifestyle by giving them alternatives to traditional snack foods," said Perris Mayor Michael M. Vargas after the vote. "Our council is committed to providing our residents with healthy snack options that benefit all generations of consumers, and we look forward to a successful campaign."

Located about an hour outside of Los Angeles, the city of Perris has an approximate population of 80,000 with a medium age of 30, according to Census Reporter. It’s 79% Hispanic with a median income of only $22,303.

The new program does not prohibit grocers from selling food or beverage items exceeding the nutritional guidelines required by the ordinance to shoppers. The items will just have to be stocked back into the aisles.

The ordinance is naturally getting pushback from industry. For example, the California Grocers Association opposed the ordinance in a statement to Eyewitness News: "We believe most shoppers prefer that grocers stock and merchandise store shelves, rather than politicians," said Nate Rose, a spokesperson for the organization.

San Bernardino, Calif.-based Stater Bros. Markets agrees, as reported in The Mercury News. “Why don’t you let the people in the food business help you and show you better ways to accomplish what you want as opposed to a city council who’s not in the food business, they’re not in the health business, mandating and dictating things they know nothing about?” said Pete Van Helden, Stater Bros.’ CEO and board chairman.

Concerned about what other rules the city might impose, Stater Bros., which has one supermarket in Perris, shelved plans to spend $20 million on a second Perris location, Van Helden said.

Stater Bros. operates nearly 170 supermarkets in seven Southern California counties. The company is No. 54 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

The city of Berkeley, Calif., passed a similar junk food ban in 2020, which took effect in March 2021.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds