Tesco, the UK’s largest food retailer, today (5 March) set out what it described as “ambitious new commitments” to help shoppers buy “affordable, healthy, sustainable food”.
The grocer has found itself under shareholder pressure over the make-up of food it sells and has laid down a series of measures to sell more “healthy” products, work on reformulating food and offer more plant-based alternatives to meat.
As a proportion of total sales, Tesco wants “healthy products” to rise from 58% now to 65% by 2025. The retailer will define what products meet that criteria by the using the UK government’s nutrient profiling model.
The retailer is aiming to quadruple its sales of plant-based meat alternatives by 300% by the same year.
And the grocer said its reformulation efforts will include plans to have two-thirds of ready meals containing at least one of the recommended five a day, up from half of the dishes now.
“We are sharing our stretching new ambitions on health, and committing to reporting our progress against them,” Tesco CEO Ken Murphy said. “Customers are telling us they want to eat a more healthy, sustainable diet, but without having to stretch the weekly shopping budget.”
Last month, a coalition of institutional and retail investors filed a health-based shareholder resolution calling on Tesco to set targets to increase the proportion of healthy products it sells. The investors, led by pressure group ShareAction, were to ask shareholders to vote for their plan at Tesco’s annual meeting in the summer.
Responding to Tesco's announcement today, Jessica Attard, head of health at ShareAction, said the retailer's new targets "demonstrate the power of investor engagement".
She added: "Tesco's new plans are an important recognition of the role supermarkets play in shaping our diets, at a time when our health has never been more critical. We look forward to continuing to work with Tesco, and to seeing other supermarkets and food manufacturers step up to this challenge."
Paul Lindley, the UK entrepreneur behind the Ella's Kitchen baby-food brand, took to Twitter to comment on the announcement.
I bought @Tesco shares to join 100 other shareholders (??@ShareAction) to table a resolution committing Tesco to set targets for healthier food sales. Today it committed to such target. The??is in the detail: so for now I both ??&??Tesco. https://t.co/SfyxSUBVCs #TescoResolution
— Paul Lindley OBE (@Paul_Lindley) March 5, 2021