Reduced fruit and veg prices dramatically increase sales

More than one in two UK shoppers (58%) are willing to adopt healthy, sustainable diets but 37% struggle to do so because of higher costs. So what can supermarkets do?

IGD joined forces with leading retailers, manufacturers and researchers at the University of Leeds, to find out in a real-life behaviour change trial, reaching millions of consumers. The trial was aimed specifically at increasing uptake of fruit and vegetables.

Sainsbury’s reduced the price of various fruit and vegetables to 60p, throughout January, for two consecutive years. This was also supported by premium placement and an advertising campaign. 

The price reductions to 60p led to a 78% uplift on promoted products in 2020 and 56% during the January 2021 covid-19 national lockdown, compared to the baseline year. The intervention contributed to sales “far above the 

expected seasonal increase”, noted IGD in its findings. There was also a knock-on effect to other products in the category that weren’t on promotion.

Three weeks into the four-week intervention period, sales of promoted fruit and vegetables declined. “This decline may reflect people’s finances prior to payday, or suggest that using placement and signposting only interrupts behaviour for a short time before going unnoticed by shoppers,” IGD noted. Further analysis of the interventions on sales is underway.

Not all fruit and veg sales went up, either. Swedes, radishes and red grapefruit all showed little signs of uplift. “[…] whilst cost is the biggest barrier to a healthy, sustainable diet; other barriers such as taste, trying something new and knowing how to cook are also important,” IGD explained.

Further work next year will look at whether consumers continued to eat a greater variety of fruit and veg following the trials, as well as how the promotions impacted shopping baskets more widely.

IGD is running a handful of large-scale trials with five major UK retailers to identify what combination of behavioural levers will help to drive long-term behaviour change towards more sustainable choices. 

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