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We are at the beginning of this journey, but already we are making changes that we know can make a real difference.
 
The food we sell
The most direct way we can make a difference is through what we sell. This is why we have a programme of reformulation to reduce the levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat in our Tesco branded foods. We’ve made a strong start with our soft drinks, cutting out over three billion calories from the range. As a result, our average UK customer is now buying 20% less sugar in soft drinks than in 2011. 
 
As we drive forward reformulation, for example using new technology to remove sugar without using artificial sweeteners, we see much scope to collaborate with our partners in The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and welcome further engagement.
 
Reformulation is key, but it’s only part of the way we can make it easier for our customers to make healthier choices. Changing the way we promote and position food is equally important – for example by being the first retailer to commit to sweet-free checkouts across all our stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, or by making sure that many of our most popular healthy products like cucumbers, tomatoes and broccoli are affordable for everyone through our ‘Prices Down Staying Down’ investment. 
 
We can also use our innovation skills to bring new products to market. For example, at the start of 2014 we re-launched our Healthy Living brand, and we recently introduced over 130 new products as part of My Fit Lifestyle, a way for customers to plan meals, track calories and live more healthily.
 
Getting personal
In addition to the food we sell, we know we can help our customers use their data to make healthier choices. An example is our ground-breaking Healthy Little Differences Tracker which measures the nutritional profile of the food we sell. This helps us to understand the true drivers of healthy and less healthy consumption across regions, formats and demographics. And in time, our customers will be able to use their own data to make more informed decisions about their shopping. We believe this Tracker will really help our customers live healthier lives, and we plan to roll it out across all our markets in the coming year.
 
Engaging society  
Finally, we are engaging beyond our shops, using our presence in communities across the UK to support the societal change that underpins healthier lives. That’s why, in January this year, we launched The Tesco Eat Happy Project, our long-term commitment to improve the next generation’s relationship with food. 
 
Eat Happy has been designed to support the new school curriculum and gives primary school children the opportunity to visit our suppliers’ farms and our stores to learn where their food comes from. Over 200,000 children have already been on one of these tours, and we are now offering Farm to Fork Online Field Trips to expand the impact of the programme. 
 
Eat Happy was set up after we carried out research with the Future Foundation and The British Nutrition Foundation. This showed that fewer than one in ten 11-18 year olds is currently achieving their 5-a-day, and many have a fundamental gap in their relationship with food. We believe that by helping children form better eating habits we can play our part in helping create a healthy population in the longer-term.  
 
We plan to roll out Eat Happy to our other retail markets in Europe and Asia, working in collaboration with suppliers and sharing progress with the WHO’s Childhood Obesity Commission. 
 
In addition, through our national charity partnership with Diabetes UK we have helped to raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes with our customers. So far we have completed over 100,000 free diabetes risk assessments online and in-store
 
Next steps 
We are committed to helping our customers lead healthier lives. We know that there is a lot more still to do, but we are proud of the start we have made. We want to work with others, including our CGF partners, to use our scale to make a lasting difference. To keep up-to-date with our latest work go to tescoplc.com/society or follow us at @tescoandsociety
 

This post has been written and contributed by:

Rebecca Shelley
Tesco Group Corporate Affairs Director