Supermarkets have increased the share of prime promotional space given to fruit and veg by 81% year-on-year, reveals new data that rubbishes suggestions they only promote fatty and sugary food.

The total share of premium space, such as gondola ends, given to fresh and frozen fruit and veg has increased from 2.7% of total food space in August 2007 to 4.9% this year, according to the latest Assosia data.

The overall level of activity, once general promotional space was factored in, would be higher still, claimed Assosia MD, Kay Staniland. “There is a clear commitment from the major multiples to provide and increase offers on healthier products,” she said. “We have seen examples of the increases in the highly competitive featured space allocations, space that is paid for and highly sought after.”

The figures were evidence that high-profile healthy-eating and fruit and veg advertising campaigns were having an impact in-store, she added. “Most fresh fruit and veg are own label so this shows a real financial commitment by retailers,” she said. “The number of fruit and veg offers is even higher when you include the high-profile 50p deals.”

The figures challenge last week’s report by the National Consumer Council, which criticised retailers for promoting too much fatty and sugary food. The NCC called for a third of all promotions to be on fruit and veg.

However, Staniland said this figure was unrealistic given the share of overall supermarket space given to the category.

“While the major multiples are doing their bit and have a role to play, they need to weigh up the impact of allocating so much space to a relatively ‘low value’ category in overall terms,” she said. “The NCC target doesn’t take any of this into account and is an unrealistic figure to be measured on.”

Andrew Opie, BRC food director, criticised the survey for basing its findings on a single week in March.