Proposals to ban junk food advertising across the Transport for London network could cost the organisation up to £13.3m per year in lost advertising revenue, forcing the public body to digest a large increase in its operating deficit.
The ban has been championed by London mayor Sadiq Khan in an effort to contain a ballooning obesity crisis in the city and would apply to all foods classed as high in fat, salt or sugar by the Food Standards Agency.
TfL calculates that the food and drink sector generated approximately £20m in revenue for the year 2016-17, with two-thirds of that total accounted for by junk food. By way of comparison the transport operator's total ad income for the year was £142m, equivalent to 2.6% of all revenue.
In a statement the Mayor for London’s office said: “We are facing an epidemic of childhood obesity in London that desperately requires bold action and we know that families feel pressurised by adverts for unhealthy foods on the transport network.
“If the ban goes ahead, TfL will work with the affected companies and brands to encourage them to promote healthier products, to try and ensure that the impact on revenue is limited.”
Any reduction in income would thrust TfL into a perilous financial position with the public body having already revealed in May that its operating deficit had surged by 26% to £1bn in the year to March 2018.