Healthy eating guidelines are being adopted by consumers and demand for healthy foods is growing, according to supermarket bosses.

Representatives from the Co-operative Group, Tesco and Asda yesterday told an Efra Food Information sub-committee they were responding to this increased demand from customers and were taking steps to promote healthy

David Croft, head of the Co-operative Group brand and technical, said although food scares lead to a relatively quick reaction from consumers in relation to their shopping, positive messages took longer to filter through but were now becoming apparent.

As shoppers purchase more of these items the supermarkets are reacting to this demand as well as improving healthy eating products, the committee heard.

Tesco CSR and government affairs director David North said instore promotions on salad were at 80 percent per week, compared with just 15 percent on confectionary - rising to 50 percent in peak times such as Easter and Christmas.

And Penny Coates, Asda brand manager, said the retailer had removed 10,000 tonnes of salt from products in last three years and a further 1,000 products would have their salt content cut this year.

The Co-operative Group policy and standards manager Adrian Hill added: “Fresh fruit and vegetable sales have gone up quite considerably in the last few years - customers are more aware of what they are consuming.”