Unilever is testing a new shopping comparison website that analyses people’s favourite foods and suggests healthier alternatives.

Smartswaps.co.uk works by assessing consumers’ online shopping histories and applying an algorithm to generate suggestions for products that are healthier.

Shoppers access the website using the log-in details of their supermarket online shopping account.

Unilever has been working on the concept since 2009 and started user-testing the website via the tesco.com open API at the end of July. Although Unilever is testing the website with Tesco shopping data, SmartSwaps is a stand-alone Unilever project and not a Tesco partnership.

The website is run by Unilever and promoted through the Flora website, but SmartSwaps itself does not carry any Unilever branding. The text advertising it on the Flora website says: “Calories, guideline daily amounts, traffic light systems sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming when you want to know how healthy the items in your trolley are. Luckily, the clever people at Smart-Swaps have come up with a new system to make it all a bit easier.”

The company stressed it was not promoting its own products “in any way at all” through SmartSwaps and that there was “absolutely no bias built in to recommend Unilever products”.

The suggestions shoppers receive are calculated on the basis of product nutrition data and shoppers’ initial choices of brand, flavour and pack size, so that product suggestions are reasonably similar to shoppers’ original choices of products.

Unilever said it was also using “the principles of the psychology of behaviour change” in determining which alternative products to recommend, “to ensure that the suggested swaps are within the range of products the shopper is most likely to consider swapping to”.

Once healthier alternatives have been identified, shoppers can choose to add these to their supermarket online shopping basket ­directly through the SmartSwaps website.

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