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Supermarkets urged to cut prices on healthy food

Which? says money-off promotions biased towards confectionary and sugary drinks

Mark Gould

Thursday, 04 August 2016

A survey by consumer group Which? has found that supermarkets have more promotions on less healthy food and drink. Which? wants retailers to play a greater role in halting rising rates of obesity by including more healthier options in their price promotions and removing less healthy foods from their checkouts.

And it has joined the chorus of medical and patient groups calling on the Government to publish its Childhood Obesity Strategy as soon as possible and, as part of a range of measures, hold retailers to account for the promotion of less healthy foods if they fail to improve.

Of 77,165 major supermarket promotions offered where nutritional data was available, Which? found that over half (53%) were on less healthy foods compared to healthier products (47%).

When comparing different food groups, the survey found that more than half (52%) of confectionery was on offer compared to only around a third of fresh fruit and vegetables (30% and 34% respectively). Seven in ten (69%) soft drinks that would fall under the higher sugar band category (more than 8% sugar) of the Government’s proposed sugar tax were also on promotion.

The survey examined promotions in ASDA, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose between April and June this year.

In a separate survey, three in ten people (29%) told Which? they find it difficult to eat healthily as they think healthier food is more expensive than less healthy food. This was the top reason given for not eating more healthily.

Half (51%) said supermarkets should include more healthier choices in promotions to make it easier for people to choose healthier food. This was the top action people wanted from supermarkets, followed by making healthier options cheaper (49%) and making foods with less fat, sugar and salt (49%).

Alex Neill, Which? Director of Campaigns and Policy, said: “Everybody has to play their part in the fight against obesity and people want supermarkets to offer more promotions on healthier foods and yet our research found the opposite.

“It’s time for supermarkets to shift the balance of products they include in price promotions and for all retailers to get rid of temptation at the till by taking sweets off the checkout.”

But the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the supermarkets' trade body, said a balanced diet was now more affordable than ever.

BRC director of food and sustainability policy Andrew Opie told the BBC: "Supermarkets offer great value in all the products they sell and it has never been easier or more affordable to choose a balanced diet."

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