Dan Parker Chief Executive Officer, Veg Power

Sainsbury’s moves to grow vegetable sales have been recognised, with the supermarket scooping the Food Foundation’s top award at its Peas Please Veg Summit last night.

The retailer was the first supermarket involved in the initiative to set a sales-based target, with plans to increase the proportion of total vegetable sales across the business by 1%. It was also praised for using a range of tactics and incentives to increase veg consumption.

They included its Great Fruit & Veg Challenge, which encourages customers to make healthier choices by offering them the chance to earn more Nectar points when they purchase more fruit & veg.

It is the fourth year Sainsbury’s has run this challenge, with 88 million more portions of fruit & veg purchased during the past 12 months.

The supermarket also provided £2 top-up coupons that families receiving the government’s Healthy Start Scheme can spend on fruit & veg from 2021 to 2023. It has worked with the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics and IGD to analyse the impacts on shopping habits.

Launched four years ago, the Peas Please initiative now has more than 110 pledgers from across the food sector, covering 94% of the retail grocery market share.

“In the past, many healthy eating campaigns have failed because they have tried to increase consumption by focusing solely on education,” said Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor.

“However, we know that for real change to happen at scale we need meaningful action that makes vegetables and veg-rich foods more available, appealing and affordable. This needs both businesses and policymakers to play a part.”

“With a real lack of action from policymakers on health and the environment, we are glad to see businesses and organisations acting for change. Through Peas Please, industry players have taken steps towards a healthier, fairer and more sustainable food system. There is still a lot more to do but the Peas Please Prize winners demonstrate what can be achieved with clear targets and concrete action.”

Bethan Tempest, healthy & sustainable diets manager at Sainsbury’s, said: “In 2020 we reset our health commitments, where we set a target to increase our healthy and better-for-you sales tonnage as a proportion of total sales. Our aim is to achieve at least 85% by 2025, currently sitting at 81.2%.

“Fruit and vegetables are at the core of a healthy and sustainable diet and essential for driving these business ambitions. The Peas Please initiative has helped solidify this focus through encouraging the transparency of and target-setting for vegetables sales. The initiative has also provided an opportunity for those across the sector to learn from each other.”