Shareholders Pressuring Supermarkets To Get Healthier
A pressure group of high profile investors, managing around £140bn worth of funds, have announced they will pressure the shareholders of Tesco, the biggest supermarket in the UK, to prioritise selling healthier food in its stores.
ShareAction, formed by backers from several wealth management companies, said in a statement that they plan to lobby the central shareholders of the company to raise the issue at its annual meeting in the summer.
They believe that the supermarket could be instrumental in tackling the significant obesity problem in the United Kingdom, as well as helping to build back a healthier, stronger Britain following the COVID-19 pandemic.
If successful, the initiative will force Tesco to publicly reveal more about the share of sales that it makes on healthy food products like fruits and vegetables, as well as annually publish updates on how well said shares improve based on the success of the scheme.
ShareAction also stated that Sainsbury’s – one of its direct competitors – and Marks & Spencer have already committed to a similar scheme, promising to increase promotion and availability of healthier options and products in-store.
Tesco holds around 27% of the market share and the company have argued, in response, that they’ve also been promoting healthier options long before ShareAction got involved.
Currently, the supermarket offers significant price cuts on fruits and vegetables, have given away over 100 million pieces of fruit for free to young children in their stores, and moved chocolate and other high sugar items away from prominent places to discourage impulse purchases near the checkouts.
The company has also pledged to increase the number of plant-based meat alternatives available to purchase by 300% by the year 2025.
It’s unsure whether the supermarket will take the requests of this shareholder group on board, particularly as the supermarket industry remains one almost untouched by the economic turmoil of the pandemic.
The United Kingdom has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, according to data from Public Health England. In recent months, the NHS and PHE have created targeted advertising to encourage Britons to choose healthier options and exercise more, after data emerged that heavier individuals run a higher risk of hospitalisation and death from the coronavirus.