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    Retailers urged to report sales of HFSS foods, fruit and veg, and types of protein

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    The Food Foundation has called on retail and food service sectors to measure and report on three key metrics in order to establish healthy and sustainable business portfolios and to help shift consumption patterns for the good of our health, as well as the planet’s.

    The non-profit wants food businesses to report the percentage of sales of high fat salt and sugar (HFSS) foods, fruit and vegetables and types of protein (animal and plant).

    The call comes as its State of the Nation’s Food Industry 2023 report, published today, has found that no major UK food retail or food service business has a target for and discloses the percentage of sales coming from both animal and plant proteins, despite making pledges to reduce carbon emissions.  

    The report finds that few businesses have set public targets for a reduction in the sale of meat protein, despite the fact it would help to reduce their carbon footprint.

    The report also found that 21.5 per cent of multibuy deals are currently on meat and dairy foods, whereas just 4.5 per cent of multibuy deals are on fruit and vegetables and 4.2 per cent on staple carbohydrates.

    With the health benefits of diets lower in red and processed meat and higher in fruit, vegetables and pulses well documented, the potential co-benefits of these measures in being able to improve health whilst simultaneously reducing our impact on the environment are significant, the Food Foundation noted.

    Though some businesses are now reporting on the sales of HFSS foods and the sales of fruit and vegetables, not one of the 27 largest retailers and OOH sector companies assessed in the State of the Nation’s Food Industry report have a target for and disclose sales of both types of protein by source (animal and plant). 

    Eight companies (Aldi, Asda, Greggs, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose) have a target and disclose data for HFSS.  Six companies (Compass Group UK & Ireland, Sodexo, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose) have a target and disclose data of fruit and vegetables.

    Several businesses have set targets to increase sales of plant-based proteins but have not set targets to reduce sales of animal proteins. This is a problem, the report said, because even if sales of plant protein have increased, it doesn’t mean sales of animal protein have decreased and therefore the greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production remain.

    The Food Foundation also called on policymakers to introduce mandatory reporting to create a level playing field.  

    The report cautioned that the government’s inaction on making reporting mandatory has meant business progress towards a better food system has slowed, with fewer commitments to healthy and sustainable diets being set in comparison to last year.  

    The UK national food strategy has recommended a 30 per cent reduction in meat consumption by 2032, and the Climate Change Committee recommended a 35 per cent reduction in meat consumption if the government is to meet its net zero target by 2050.

    “Business transparency has stagnated, with fewer businesses disclosing sales weighted data on health and sustainability than last year. This negative trend is not being helped by the lack of leadership from government on food, and the fact there is still no agreed way of consistently measuring and reporting the nutrient content and carbon footprint of food,” Anna Taylor, executive director, The Food Foundation said.

    “Government needs to build business confidence and signal its commitment to the healthy and sustainable diet agenda by making reporting of sales weighted data mandatory.”

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