Centre for Rural Economy

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Do food retailers back up good intentions with action?

A small number of supermarket food retailers and caterers supply most of the food eaten in Britain. Most are vocal about their commitment to promoting children’s health and nutrition – but are these claims backed up by action?

At the recent Food Matters Live 2016 Diogo Souza Monteiro presented a talk “Lessons from retailers promoting health and wellbeing to children” in a session on marketing healthier options in practice to different demographics. His presentation was based on a paper published early this year at the Journal of Food Products Marketing with Professor Neal Hooker from the Ohio State University, examining the role British retailers are playing regarding mitigation of childhood obesity.

The researchers investigated retailers social corporate responsibility reports and found that most references to children’s health and nutrition related to support for physical education, sponsoring sports competitions, or programmes of nutrition and cooking education, with little mention of food formulation. 

They suggest that we should perhaps be looking more critically at how food retailers’ can reconcile their marketing strategies with their claims of social responsibility when addressing social causes.

published on: 13 December 2016