With only 5% of the UK population shopping in independent outlets, statistics reveal that supermarkets chains are Britain’s largest food retailers with 90% of the population’s custom.
These supermarket chains provide the most choice and value for money; also deciding on how to market their products in store, and what products are made available to shoppers. As such, they have a strong influence on how customers shop, what food products are bought and are responsible to their customers for keeping abreast of changing social concerns and preferences.
As a result shoppers are now seeing trends where our retail giants are looking to provide a greater balance in relation to products and how these are placed in their stores, moving confectionery from checkouts to aisles in order to allow customers room to make conscious health choices.
Tesco is the latest retailer to withdraw confectionery from all its checkouts, both supermarkets and express chains, after having started the initiative in its larger stores twenty years ago. Since then well-known chains such as Lidl and Sainsbury’s have followed suit, with Marks and Spencer and ASDA removing confectionery from some of their tills.
Tesco decided to commit to this move after a survey revealed 65% of shoppers supported the idea of moving confectionery to aisles, and test healthier options at checkouts before implementing a full change. This implementation is supported by the majority of customers, as research by Technomic portrays how consumers are becoming more health aware and are seeking a more balanced lifestyle.
As such the removal of confectionery from, what a study by Sigurdsson and associates reveals as, a purchasing hot spot, removes the bias from product placement. Another productive aspect of the relocation of checkout confectionery rests with our thinking processes.
Dr Cohen, a natural scientist at Rand Health, tells us how individuals are programmed to act beforethinking through the consequences, therefore the last minute facet of the checkout line negates health concerns by the over-riding need to act. By allowing customers the desired space to look at their food shopping from a pressure free viewpoint supermarkets are providing an enhanced opportunity for positive decision making.
The NHS evokes a balanced lifestyle consisting of fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy, as well as foods containing sugar and fat. In fact the NHS classifies a balanced diet as containing one portion of confectionery alongside the other main food groups aforementioned.
Maintaining a balanced diet therefore substantiates the removal of confectionery to mainstream aisles, as this will provide customers with an even and unbiased shopping experience and the increased opportunity to opt for a healthy diet which includes all food groups in moderation.
It appears that a growing concern for a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet may lead supermarket chains to adopt healthier checkout choices to support this ambition in the future, following current trends for healthy snacking options, opposed to classic confectionery.
Already Tesco’s Chief Executive, Mr. Philip Clarke, has stated that the supermarket brand has promised to alter recipes to reduce fat, sugar and salt content to make healthier soft drinks and ready meals. With The NPD Group also revealing their findings on a growing trend for healthy snack options we can assume further health initiatives and efforts from our food retailers.
Although The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) are correct in stating that achieving the balanced and healthy diet is nevertheless in the hands of the individual, this shift in awareness amongst supermarkets suggests that we are supported in our endeavour for moderation, balance and overall health.
What other productive health conscious initiatives would you like to see in the food industry?