Lower prices for fruits and vegetables encourage healthier diets

Sales of discount fruits and vegetables have increased by almost 80% in two trials at Sainsbury’s.

And many shoppers continued to buy the healthiest foods even after prices returned to previous levels, a new study finds.

The study, led by the University of Leeds, was carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) and examined the contents of 23.4 million shopping carts.

A total of 101 Sainsbury’s stores across the country were involved in the food promotion, which took place for four-week periods in January 2020 and January 2021.

During each of the trials, the cost of the selected fruits and vegetables was reduced to 60 pence. Data analyzed by the Leeds research team found that sales of discount fruit and vegetables increased by 78%.

Consumer’s behavior

Dr Michelle Morris of Leeds Medical School led the research.

“Using large-scale, anonymous sales data over an extended period of time to understand consumer behaviors and evaluate interventions is unique and exciting,” said Dr. Morris, who leads the nutrition analysis team and Lifestyle based at the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics and the Consumer Data Research Center.

“The collaborative approach to study design, independent analysis and the scaling-up strategy means we can share learnings across the industry to make the best changes to help consumers buy products. healthier and more sustainable choices. “

The research team found that after the trial period, sales of the promoted fruits and vegetables remained above average for the month after the discounts ended, suggesting that some shoppers maintained their healthier diets. .

Fruits and vegetables at reduced prices

In January 2020, Sainsbury’s sold 13 items at the promotional price of 60 pence. Sales increased in 11 items, including avocado, pineapple, mango, kiwi, celery, kale, eggplant, carrots, baby apples, beets and radishes. During the trial period, sales were below benchmark for two discounted items: Rutabaga and Red Grapefruit.

In January 2021, seven items were put away. Sales increased in all of them: avocado, kiwi, mango, small gem lettuce, kale, pomegranate, and red grapefruit.

Previous IGD results revealed that 37% of shoppers said the cost prevented them from eating healthy and sustainable diets *.

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD, said: “Obesity is one of the biggest health problems facing this country. Only 1% of the UK population currently adhere to government guidelines for healthy eating. **

“With our food having such a huge impact on our health and our planet, now is the time for government, the food and consumer goods industry and buyers to take collective action. The most effective way to tell a difference is to change what we eat and drink.

“This report explores our early findings, which are already showing positive impact through nudge tactics, pricing and product placement.

“This is an extremely exciting project, which demonstrates the real opportunity our industry has to make healthy and sustainable diets easier and more accessible to everyone. “

Further findings from Sainsbury’s – aimed at determining whether shoppers continued to eat a wider variety of fruits and vegetables in the year following the trial – will be released in 2022.

More information

Healthy, Sustainable Diets: Driving Change can be viewed or downloaded here.

* Source: IGD (2021), Appetite for Change

** Source: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/8/e037554

About the research:
a. The trials were implemented nationwide, in January 2020 and January 2021, in major stores in the field and e-commerce. Trials impact multiple regions and demographics.
b. Since most shoppers shop at multiple food and grocery stores each month, these results represent Sainsbury’s shopping carts and not an individual’s entire diet.
vs. The 60p fruit and veg promotion ran for eight weeks (in 2020 and 2021), spanning two years and in 101 Sainsbury’s stores nationwide and online.
D. During the eight weeks of intervention, 1.5 million baskets contained the promoted fruits or vegetables; data from 23.4 million baskets were analyzed in total.
e. In 2020, 13 products were offered as part of the 60p fruits and vegetables promotion. In 2021, that number was limited to seven.
F. During the four-week intervention period in January 2020, promoted fruits and vegetables accounted for 9% of total fruit and vegetable purchases during the promotional period, falling to 5% in the following four weeks . In 2021, it was 8% during the operation, to drop to 6% in the 4 weeks that followed.

For more details, contact Ian Rosser, Media Relations, University of Leeds.

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