Together with Impact on Urban Health, we recently published a new report highlighting the results of our latest round of Collaboration for Healthier Lives (CHL) UK supermarket trials. The progress report follows on from the initial CHL UK report published in 2020 that shared findings from multiple supermarket trials designed to make healthier products more affordable and accessible to customers. In the latest findings, brand recognition, promotions and reformulation are highlighted as key drivers in nudging consumers towards healthier baskets, while a shift to more sustainable diets was also highlighted. The report includes case studies from the following CHL UK members – IGD, McCain Foods, Premier Foods, Sainsbury’s, Samworth Brothers, Superdrug, Tesco and Unilever.
Co-signed by the CHL UK Co-Chairs Richard Hall, Danone and Karen Poole, Tesco, the progress report outlines key reasons why the food industry needs to prioritise health, from making sure that nutritious options are accessible to children from low-income neighbourhoods to investing in healthier and more sustainable products.
Government regulation in the UK in the form of restricting foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) will, despite delays, come into force. CHL UK members welcome the creation of a level playing field that enables food companies’ action on health and galvanises innovation to offer customers greater access to healthier options.
The case studies in this report highlight broader learnings and interventions undertaken by seven CHL UK member companies. Data from the Tesco trails have been independently analysed by the University of Oxford while other case studies used individual evaluation methods. The updated data from the supermarket trials, which ran from 2020, have shown that:
- Capitalising on brand recognition of shopping basket favourites and creating ‘better-for-you’ alternatives to popular products successfully increased sales of healthier foods.
- Promotional activity can drive increased sales of healthier and sustainable products, but more needs to be done to work out how to sustain this uplift once the promotion ends.
- Reformulation – changing the ingredients of popular products can substantially reduce calories without having a negative impact on taste, quality or sales
While results look promising, there are limitations to the current trailing approach and more needs to be done. Collaboration is key, however. Later this year, CHL will convene the CEOs of its member companies to agree on key questions that need answering to fast track progress on health. We urge companies to make reporting more transparent and set ambitious, meaningful targets, which are needed to build healthier and more sustainable lives for everyone in the UK.