Tesco will launch a health and wellbeing division next week, with former marketing director David Wood appointed to lead it as divisional managing director.
The initiative was announced by Chris Bush, Tesco’s UK managing director (and The Grocer’s guest editor this week), kicking off with the trial of a range of healthier food in 50 of Tesco’s London stores next week.
The My Fit Lifestyle range, which includes 130 products that are colour-coded to show how many calories they contain, will also launch online. It will be rolled out nationwide if the pilot scheme is a success.
Tesco is also offering to provide customers with free health plans and a My Fit Lifestyle app that monitors their calorie intake.
“Health and wellbeing is a such a macro trend in the industry,” said Bush. “It’s really important that we look at how we can make sure we offer more choice.”
“Our job isn’t about making healthy choices cheaper than burgers, but we have a duty to push more healthy food.”
Wood, who was previously European marketing director at Kraft Foods, will have accountability for all Tesco’s health-related food developments, including new ranges of own label and branded food and drink, as well as its pharmacy, opticians, healthcare and Nutricentre operations.
“David’s job is to get those businesses to integrate together and to grow and I’m really excited about the opportunity it brings us,” said Bush.
It follows Tesco’s move last month to remove sugary foods from all checkouts by the end of 2014, including its convenience stores, as well as its recent call for soft drinks suppliers to remove all added sugar from children’s drinks. Tesco has also asked suppliers to reduce sugar and artificial sweeteners in all soft drinks.
Bush acknowledged there was a potential commercial impact of removing confectionery from tills and said Tesco had challenged its trading teams to find replacement products that would also sell as strongly.
He added that Tesco had begun piloting layouts at its tills that “include fruit, nuts and a whole range of healthier products” to meet its pledge of removing sweets from those areas.