Food Foundation report praises Sainsbury’s and Tesco, while Morrisons and Asda are told to do more
Sainsbury’s and Tesco have been praised for their work promoting healthy, sustainable food, with Morrisons and Asda criticized for not doing enough.
The Food Corporation’s annual report on the Food Industry in the State of the Nation lists the best and worst supermarkets, caterers and restaurant chains in Britain and the worst performers in the league table of what companies are doing to promote healthy and sustainable food.
According to the charity, the report shows “the urgent need for a legally enforceable framework of health and sustainability goals across the food industry if we are to tackle the dual challenge of obesity-related diseases now crippling the NHS, and the devastating impact of modern food production systems and eating habits on the environment and climate”.
Media outlets praised for their forward-looking efforts to address these issues including Lidl, Tesco and Greggs as well as current leaders, Sainsbury’s. Those who have experienced their own inertia are Morrisons and Asda.
The report states that the most proactive retailers are already working on targets and metrics to assess their progress toward improving their customers’ diets and health.
Conversely, there has been little or no effort in this direction by food providers, restaurant chains or fast food outlets with the calorie content of restaurants and prepared foods twice that of foods offered by supermarkets.
The report shows that Greggs, a retailer that sells prepared foods, is emerging as the only quick service restaurant targeting sales of healthy foods.
Call for mandatory scheme
The Food Corporation, along with a number of corporate sponsors, are calling on the government to introduce a mandatory scheme for all large British food companies to report sales of fruits and vegetables, sales of foods rich in salt and sugar, plants and meat-based proteins, and the amount of unsold food that is disposed of. Of which. This scheme was originally proposed in the government-commissioned National Food Strategy published last year.
Only 10 of the 27 major food companies investigated by the Food Foundation publish any valid data to show their efforts to address sustainability and health goals.
Less than half of the major supermarket chains make any effort to report their sales of healthy foods, sales of fruit and vegetables, or sales of animal and plant-based proteins. Sainsbury’s is the only supermarket to report on all three of these metrics.
Greggs is the only fast food outlet that aims to sell healthy foods. Only a quarter of restaurant chains or caterers report sales of fruits and vegetables. There is no report on sales of animal proteins versus vegetable proteins.
The report also highlights:
Lack of support among UK food companies to address the massive advertising imbalance between unhealthy versus healthy food. Fruit and vegetable promotion receives only 1% of marketing expenditure;
The need for supermarket chains to provide more support to low-income families. Only Sainsbury and Iceland are currently promoting the government’s Healthy Start Scheme, which aims to support access to fruit, vegetables and milk for children under four years of age;
The gap between the cost of healthy and unhealthy foods is widening, with the cost of healthy foods increasing three times per calorie. This gap continues to widen due to the cost of living crisis: in 2021-22 the price of healthy food rose by twice the rate of less healthy foods (5.1% vs 2.5%).
Food Strategy Commitments
The Food Foundation wants to see recognition that mandatory reporting is necessary for the government to meet its calorie and sugar reduction targets and its duty to protect public health and sustainable economic growth, with government working to meet the commitments made in the Food Strategy whitepaper to implement mandatory reporting across a range of health and sustainability metrics. For large companies.
It also wants consistent legal definitions of healthy, sustainable foods that apply across the board, efforts to address unbalanced marketing spending between less healthy and healthier foods, and more accountability from catering providers, fast food, and restaurant chains.
“The need for food companies to tackle the twin issues of diet-related ill health and the climate crisis is more urgent than ever,” said dietician Rebecca Toby, a senior business manager and investor at the Food Foundation. If we are to meet the government’s net commitments on climate change and reverse the downward trajectory of the nation’s health, it is imperative that food companies realize their responsibility. The retail sector is currently ahead when it comes to health and sustainability commitments – it is time for catering operators, restaurant chains and fast food outlets to do the same.”
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