Helping our customers to live healthier lives has long been one of our core values here at Sainsbury’s. With 28 million online and in-store customer transactions each week across the UK, we’re heavily invested in our responsibility to help customers eat healthily and improve the quality of food in their baskets. That’s why we’ve introduced multiple initiatives to encourage our customers to make healthier choices. But helping our customers to ‘Live Well for Less’ goes beyond developing nutritious and reformulated products. We also have a key role to play to help positively nudge customers towards healthier choices and shopping habits. A clear strategy around promotions is integral to this.

With over a fifth of four to five-year olds classed as overweight or obese, action is clearly needed. We believe that it is vital that food retailers take action and establish initiatives and policies to ensure customers have the tools they need to make more informed decisions when food shopping. We’re proud of our dedication and track record of promoting healthier lifestyles to our customers and continue to strive to ensure that all promotions, adverts, incentives and product placements, both in-store and online, are offered responsibly. Whilst great progress has been made, we’re aware there’s still much more that can be done.

This includes the range of products that we stock in our stores, the incentives and promotions that we run, pricing, the welfare and standards of the products we make and ensuring our customers are fully informed about the choices they make when they shop with us.

We realise that product placement and in-store promotions play an integral role in a customer’s decision-making process when shopping. In 2016, we stopped all multi-buy offers and we’ve removed confectionery from supermarket checkouts to help encourage healthier lifestyles. We’re focussed on reducing prices across our high volume lines and are committed to offering our customers quality products at great value.

March 2019 saw us become a partner of the Collaboration for Healthier Lives (CHL) UK, an initiative of The Consumer Goods Forum’s Health & Wellness Pillar. This programme is designed to encourage healthier living across the two London boroughs taking part in the initial trial period, Lambeth and Southwark, and is supported by some of the UK’s largest FMCG companies, several local authorities, as well as health authorities, community groups and academic partners. This initiative is an integral step towards transforming the shopping experience for customers across the UK. We believe that the success of the trial in Lambeth and Southwark will underline the importance of cross-sector collaboration between supermarkets, retailers, government and health associations.

In addition, we’ve looked at how incentives and shelf placement can encourage customers to make healthier choices. All the trials we run are vital to better understand how the initiatives we introduce can help all our customers, especially lower-affluence families, pursue healthier diets and lifestyles.

We work hard to ensure that the healthier choice is never more expensive than the standard equivalent – whilst this isn’t always easy to manage with changes in pack sizes and promotions, this is an integral part of our trading practices and dedication to cementing our position as the UK’s most trusted retailer.

What next steps are needed?

With obesity levels across the UK still at crisis point, retailers and food manufacturers are working hard to improve the nutritional content of food and reduce the level of unhealthy products available to customers, there is still more work to do around in-store product placement and promotions. We believe there are a few key steps that once introduced could be vital in aiding our customers to make healthier choices.

1. Integrate new technologies

Leveraging new technologies across the sector could also allow retailers to better serve different customer groups and potentially deliver more effective shifts towards healthier habits, for example through rewards and promotions encourage.

2. Include guidance on portion sizes

We would welcome industry consensus or government recommendations on responsible portion sizes – these could be used to help guide calorie-based reformulations, for the purposes of front of pack labelling and to help educate customers on responsible meal sizes and snacks. It can also be used to guide customers towards calorie-controlled options within stores.

The overall aim of our business is to encourage all our customers to live the healthiest lives possible whilst simultaneously delivering great value on products in and outside of promotions.

This blog post was written and contributed by:

Nilani Sritharan, Healthy Living Manager

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets