Grocers making progress on health targets

Retailers representing more than half the UK grocery market have now made commitments to increase sales from healthier products.

A year ago, just Sainsbury’s and M&S had set a target to increase sales of healthier products according to the campaign group ShareAction. Since then, Tesco, Aldi UK and Lidl have joined them in setting sales-based targets representing 60% of the market in total.

In a briefing paper, ShareAction said this showed that the UK grocery retail sector was “moving in the right direction”, however it said more effort was needed from those retailers that have made no or partial commitments.

Iceland, Ocado and Waitrose do not disclose any information or have made no commitments on the healthiness of their sales.

Asda and Morrisons have committed to increasing the healthiness of their own-brand products but have not made the link to sales, while Co-op has published data on the proportion of its products that are healthier but has not set any long-term ambitions.

ShareAction is encouraging investors to put pressure on retailers to align their definition of healthier products with the government’s nutrient profiling model which assesses the healthiness of foods based on their fat, salt and sugar content.

It said investors should also ask retailers to increase the proportion of sales from healthier products, both branded and own label; set targets on increasing sales from healthier products; and report on yearly progress in annual reports.

Earlier this year investors, coordinated by ShareAction, filed the first ever health-based resolution in the UK calling on Tesco to commit to increasing the proportion of sales from healthier products. Tesco responded by setting what ShareAction described as “industry leading targets”. It said the example shows that investor action on health can be an effective way to improve retailer commitments and drive the whole industry forward.

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