Sainsbury’s is to present evidence to the government that front-of-pack traffic light labelling leads to a dramatic consumer shift towards healthier products.

The company is also calling on other retailers and suppliers to drop their long-standing opposition to the labels.

Director of Sainsbury’s brand, Judith Batchelar, said sales of some foods bearing green lights because of low salt, sugar and fat had risen almost 50%, whereas those with mostly red lights had fallen by up to a quarter.

A Department of health consultation on nutritional labelling is due to end next month, with most suppliers and some supermarkets, including Tesco, opposed to the idea.

Sainsbury’s said its traffic light-based health wheel, which it introduced in 2005, had “challenged conventional wisdom” about a range of products. These included cereals, which consumers were surprised contained such high levels of salt, and yoghurts, which they didn’t realise contained so much sugar.

Sainsbury’s evidence will include a study by Ipsos Mori showing that sales of Be Good To Yourself Easy Steam salmon, which has mostly green traffic lights, grew 46.1% - whereas sales of Taste the Difference Moussaka (mostly reds) fell by 24% over a comparable 12-week period last year.