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    ‘Cost, placement impact sale of healthy food’

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    Cost is considered the primary factor in shopping choices and tends to impact sale of healthy food products, a recent report has stated, also listing product placement and signposting as other factors.

    According to a recently released IGD research report, behaviour change in stores has long been a challenge, and it is widely understood that there is a difference between what consumers say will change their behaviours and buying habits.

    Cost is considered the primary factor in shopping choices, with 37 per cent of consumers surveyed citing it as a major barrier to healthy diets.

    The research showed that in 2022, when a variety of promoted fruit and vegetables were priced at 60p in a major retailer, there was a 78 per cent increase in sales of portions of promoted fruit and vegetables. However, three weeks into the four-week intervention period, sales of the promoted fruit and vegetables declined, suggesting the effectiveness of the intervention decreased with time.

    Vouchers could also have a key role to play, as when a £2 top-up was provided to the Government’s Healthy Start Vouchers, 13 more portions of fruit and veg were being bought per redeeming transaction in one major retailer.

    Placement in the aisles of a store is also a key lever for change. Multiple trials have seen a fall in spending on unhealthy items when they are removed from the convenience area near check-outs. When one retailer removed confectionery from off-fixture displays and introduced a ‘Fresh 3’ fixture instead, there was an increase in sales of healthier products in the first 30 weeks.

    Lastly, effective and well-positioned customer communications, or ‘signposting’ has been recognised as behaviour change. One trial saw messages about calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and fibre displayed next to products. Shoppers proved more open to switching to healthier options when messages focused on calories or sugar.

    Cathy Capelin, head of health and sustainable diets at IGD, said, “We know that less than 1 per cent of people in the UK are meeting government dietary recommendations and obesity has been trending upwards for some time. We want to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible to everyone, and this research will provide science-based, data-driven evidence to support the changes needed.”

    Naomi Kissman, social impact director at IGD, said, “This ground-breaking programme of work on consumer behaviour change, alongside our study with major retailers on the impact of HFSS location restrictions, will support industry and policy makers to make clear, evidence-based decisions on how to support consumers towards healthier choices.”

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