Haribo multibuy

Multibuys would remain a barrier to making healthier diets more affordable if the current trend remained, the Food Foundation said

Retailers should include more fruit, veg and healthier staples like eggs and milk in multibuy promotions in order to help more families access nutritious food, the Food Foundation has urged.

Research by the campaign group found nearly a third (29%) of all products included in multibuys or bogof offers run by the biggest five supermarkets were classed as HFSS. In comparison, just 3% of volume promotions were on staple carbohydrates, 3.8% on fruit and veg and 1% on milk.

Of the five retailers included in the study, which covered the period between 18 to 24 April, Asda was found to be running the most multibuy promotions on HFSS products, at 11.5%, with just 0.8% of products included on multibuys being staples. Morrisons was slightly less, with 11.4% of products under multibuys being HFSS.

At Tesco, which along with Sainsbury’s has pledged to voluntarily phase out multibuy offers, 6.2% of the products included in multibuys were classed as HFSS. Sainsbury’s and Aldi run price reduction promotions.

In June the government pushed back proposals to ban the use of bogof and multibuy offers until at least October 2025, arguing that customers would benefit from the choice and access to lower prices during the cost of living crisis.

While multibuy offers could be a useful tool in helping families to access healthier food, unless promotions are restructured to include healthier staples, they would continue to act as a barrier to making a healthier diet more accessible, the Foundation argued.

FF multibuy graph

Source: Food Foundation

Echoing calls made it in its Kids Food Guarantee launched in March, the campaign group urged supermarkets and suppliers to ensure deals were placed on staple carbohydrates and healthy essentials like fruit and vegetables, milk and eggs rather than on less healthy, HFSS foods.

“Levels of food insecurity remain worryingly high, with 17% of households experiencing food insecurity in June 2023. This is over twice as high as levels in January 2022,” said Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor.

“With food price inflation falling only very slowly, we need both government and retailers to urgently step up and support households through the cost of living crisis. That support needs to make sure families are able to access and afford healthy staples such as fruit and veg.

“Running promotional deals on junk food simply makes it even harder for many to access and afford nutritious food.”