First findings in series of retail trials show a 78% uplift in promoted fruit and veg sales when prices are reduced, from in-store trials at Sainsbury’s

Date : 30 November 2021

Collaboration between IGD, food and consumer goods industry and the University of Leeds helps shift people towards healthier, more sustainable diets.

Collaboration between IGD, food and consumer goods industry and the University of Leeds helps shift people towards healthier, more sustainable diets

As part of its ambition to make healthy and sustainable diets easy for everyone, IGD is today launching the first results from its in-store behaviour change trials, testing what strategies at point of sale could shift consumers towards making healthier, more sustainable food and drink choices.

To find out what truly drives long-term behaviour change, IGD has joined forces with leading retailers, manufacturers and researchers at the University of Leeds, to put theory into practice with millions of people through a series of real-life behaviour change trials. These first results were taken from promotions across 101 Sainsbury’s stores during a four-week-period in both January 2020 and January 2021.

With 37% of consumers saying that cost prevents them from eating a healthy, sustainable diet 1 , the trials tested the hypothesis: reducing the price of fruit and vegetables to 60p in stores across the country, for four weeks, should increase portions sold and variety of products purchased 2 using three behaviour change levers. Sales data analysed by the team at The University of Leeds found the number of promoted fruit and vegetable portions sold increased by 78% when the price was reduced.

Susan Barratt, IGD CEO, said: “Obesity is one of the biggest health problems this country faces. Just 1% of the UK population currently meets government healthy eating guidance.3 With our diets having such a huge impact on our health and our planet, now is the time for government, the food and consumer goods industry and shoppers to take collective action. The most impactful way to make a difference is to change what we eat and drink.

“This report explores our initial findings, which already shows a positive impact through nudge tactics, pricing and product placement. This is a hugely exciting project, demonstrating the genuine opportunity our industry has to make healthy and sustainable diets easier and more accessible for everyone.”

As well as the number of promoted fruit or vegetables purchased, fruit and vegetable sales also increased beyond the items on offer. The findings show that promoted fruit and vegetable sales did decline after the promotions ended, although the rate of decline reduced year-on-year, suggesting some consumers carried their healthier eating habits forward.

Further findings from Sainsbury’s – looking at whether consumers continued to eat a greater variety of fruit and vegetables in the year after the trial – will be reported on in 2022.

IGD is leading the way and bringing industry together to collaboratively drive change by implementing the trials, with support from their research partner, the University of Leeds, through its Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) and Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC). LIDA is capturing and measuring sales data from each intervention to assess what levers drive long-term behaviour change to adopting healthier and more sustainable food and drink choices. With learnings from these and further trials that are underway with several UK retailers, which will be shared in 2022, IGD will recommend how industry can effectively shift consumer behaviour towards healthy and sustainable diets.

Dr Michelle Morris, who leads the Nutrition and Lifestyle Analytics team at LIDA / CDRC, said: “Using anonymous sales data at scale, over an extended period of time to understand consumer behaviours and evaluate interventions, is unique and exciting. The collaborative approach to study design, independent analysis and wide dissemination strategy means that we can share learnings across the sector to make the best changes to help consumers purchase healthier and more sustainable choices.”

Use this report to understand how, by working together, the food and consumer goods industry can drive change and trial real-life solutions to inspire others. As part of this work, IGD has also developed a hub of inspiring industry insight, bringing together a wealth of resources to help deliver change in your organisation. Visit the hub to find out why healthy, sustainable diets should be central to your business strategy and see how you can get involved.

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For media enquiries please contact Sarah Burns [email protected] / t: 07483 094027.

Notes to editors:

  1. Source: IGD (2021), Appetite for Change
  2. Source: IGD, Healthy Sustainable Diets: Driving Change, Behavioural Insights Report 2021
  • An adult portion of fruit and vegetables is 80g, according to Government guidance
  1. Source: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/8/e037554
  2. Further information about the research:
    1. The trials were implemented nationally, in January 2020 and January 2021, across main estate stores and e-commerce. The trials impact multiple regions and demographics.
    2. As most shoppers purchase from multiple food and grocery stores each month, these results represent Sainsbury’s shopper baskets and not an individual’s entire diet.
    3. The 60p Fruit and Vegetable promotion has run for 8 weeks (across 2020 & 2021), spanning 2 years and 101 Sainsbury’s stores nationwide and online.
    4. During the 8 weeks of intervention 1.5 million baskets contained the promoted fruit or vegetables; data from 23.4 million baskets was analysed in total.
    5. In 2020, thirteen products were offered as part of the 60p fruit and vegetable promotion, in 2021 this was limited to seven.
    6. In the 4 week intervention period in January 2020, promoted fruit and vegetables comprised 9% of total fruit and vegetable purchases during the promotion period, falling to 5% in in the 4 weeks that follow. In 2021, this was 8% during the intervention, falling to 6% in the 4 weeks after
  3. All content is owned by IGD. If you use or refer to any content in this press release, please credit IGD
  4. Follow us on Twitter: @fromIGD and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/igd/
  5. IGD is an organisation of two interconnected communities. The profits from Commercial Insight are reinvested into Social Impact, which together work to drive change that makes a tangible difference for society, business and the individual.
  6. Social Impact from IGD is delivered in four key areas:
    1. People – focussed on giving young people opportunities to develop their employability and life skills, and on building the knowledge and capability of food and consumer goods industry colleagues, to foster an inclusive and productive workforce;
    2. Health – nutrition experts use the latest research and behavioural science to develop practical tools that help the whole industry. IGD is collaborating with and inspiring companies to adopt best practice and implement change;
    3. Sustainability – focused on mobilising the industry to tackle climate change, reduce food waste, increase food surplus redistribution, develop sustainable packaging systems and accelerate the industry’s progress towards Net Zero;
    4. Economics – supporting better strategic planning and decision making, for the benefit of consumers, through economic analysis and engagement with policy makers.
  7. LIDA brings together data scientists from all disciplines, opening up new opportunities to understand health and human behaviour and identifying what action is required to tackle the social and environmental problems we face. LIDA has a high-level, secure data environment and experience of working with a wide range of partners, from small student projects to multi-million-pound research grants. They are experienced in signing data sharing agreements, making them an ideal partner to maximise IGD’s research and realise its potential.
  8. About Sainsbury’s
  • Offering delicious, great quality food at competitive prices has been at the heart of what we do since John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury opened our first store in 1869. Today, inspiring and delighting our customers with tasty food remains our priority.
  • Our purpose is that driven by our passion for food, together we serve and help every customer.
  • Our focus on great value food and convenient shopping, whether in-store or online is supported by our brands – Argos, Habitat, Tu, Nectar and Sainsbury’s Bank. Sainsbury’s has over 600 supermarkets and over 800 convenience stores. Argos is a leading digital retailer and is the third most visited retail website in the UK, with over 90 per cent of its sales starting online. Argos is conveniently available for customers to collect from hundreds of Sainsbury’s stores. Digital and technology enables us to adapt as customers shop differently and our profitable, fast-growing online channels offer customers quick and convenient delivery and collection capability.
  • Our 189,000 colleagues are integral to our success, now and in the future.
  1. In Summer 2020, IGD convened a Healthy and Sustainable Diets Project Group to collaboratively identify and test strategies that could encourage people to make healthier, more sustainable food and drink choices. The members are: 2 Sisters Food Group; Aldi Stores Ltd UK; Alpro UK Ltd; ASDA Stores Ltd; Compass Group UK & Ireland; Co-op Group; Kellogg Europe; Kerry Group plc; Lidl GB; Marks and Spencer plc; Nestle UK Ltd; PepsiCo; Premier Foods Group Plc; Sainsbury's; Tesco Stores Ltd; Unilever UK Limited; Waitrose Ltd; Whitworths Group Ltd; Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC. Research partners: University of Leeds; British Nutrition Foundation.
  2. The area of healthy and sustainable diets is complex. Different models suggest what a healthy and sustainable diet could look like, but a consistent definition is yet to be agreed. Based on the existing evidence, IGD’s project group has agreed to use the government’s Eatwell Guide as the current direction of travel. It is widely accepted that this way of eating is beneficial both for our health and the planet.