Supermarket promos “misdirected” 

Wed 16/08/2023 by Richard Wilkinson

A Food Foundation report in the UK suggests that multibuy and other promotional deals in supermarkets are currently misdirected, with only 3.8% focusing on fruit and vegetables. The charity’s latest round of national food insecurity data come at a time when 17% of households are struggling to put food on the table. 

Earlier this year, the government delayed restrictions to multibuys or ‘buy one get one free’ (BOGOF) deals on foods high in salt, sugar and fat (HFSS), arguing that families would need access to these price reductions during the cost-of-living crisis. But The Food Foundation argues its new data shows that in fact the foods which families really need to be on discount during the cost-of-living crisis, including stable carbohydrates and milk, are not subject to multibuys – instead almost a third (29 per cent) are on HFSS products.

The Food Foundation’s Kids Food Guarantee, funded by Fusion21, found that only a tiny percentage of the deals apply to staple ingredients or essential items for feeding families. The higher price of healthier calories relative to less healthy calories means it is already more challenging for citizens struggling with the cost of living to afford a healthy diet, it said, especially those from low income groups, but the current distribution of multibuys do not help with the affordability of basic staple foods such as fruit and vegetables.

The Food Foundation said that offering promotions could be a useful tool for supporting consumers to stretch their food budget further when promotions are on essential items. But unless such promotions are structured so that they help citizens to afford healthier staple foods – rather than discretionary foods high in salt, sugar and fat – multibuy offers will only further obstruct the shift towards making healthier diets the easier, more affordable option, it added.

Anna Taylor, executive director of The Food Foundation, said: “Support needs to make sure that families are able to access and afford healthy staples such as fruit and veg. Running promotional deals on junk food simply makes it even harder for many to access and afford nutritious food.”


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