Tesco aisles

Source: alamy

Tesco has made the HFSS content of its suppliers’ products a key factor in its new range reset, as it urges companies to do more to make healthy food cheaper.

The supermarket urged suppliers to set targets for reformulation if they had not already done so, in line with its pledge for 65% of its sales to be ‘healthy’ by 2025.

The move comes as Tesco this week launched its biggest range review since Dave Lewis’s Project Reset began in 2015.

Tesco has already signed up to a pledge to remove 100 billion calories from its own-label line-up in the next two years, but now it wants more of its suppliers to make similar commitments.

The announcement comes just weeks after Tesco said it would continue with a ban on HFSS multibuy promotions, including bogofs, despite plans for a national ban being put on hold by government because of the cost of living crisis.

Under Tesco’s Fit for Growth plans, which were presented to its grocery suppliers last week, it says it will take into account the extent to which companies are innovating and reformulating on health.

It is not the first time the supermarket has asked suppliers to do more to make healthier food more affordable. In 2018 Dave Lewis claimed the premium customers paid for many healthier products was “not justifiable”.

David Sables, who founded Sentinel Management Consultants, said despite government rowbacks he believed Tesco was now ready to begin using health as a reason to delist suppliers who failed to make their non-HFSS products cheaper.

”Tesco has broached this subject before but I believe they now plan to use this as a key driver to force down prices,” he said.

“They know they have a lot of support from the public and powerful shareholder interests who have been pushing retailers to go further on health despite government backtracks.

“The fact is, it doesn’t really matter what the government says about HFSS promotions and that sort of thing – if Tesco starts demanding moves on health, suppliers are going to find it very difficult to resist.”

Tesco’s presentation to suppliers stressed the huge impact on society of one in three people in England being obese.

It coincides with a report by the Tony Blair Institute this week which urged a future government to introduce fiscal measures to incentivise supermarkets to sell healthier food.

A Tesco spokeswoman said the range review planned to encourage innovation from suppliers to make food healthier, as well as hitting Tesco’s environmental targets.

“Our shared objectives for the review are to continue to deliver great availability and quality, at the same time as maintaining our focus on value, health and sustainability,” she said.