IGD collaborates with food and consumer goods industry and University of Leeds to shift people towards healthier, more sustainable diets

Date : 12 May 2021

As part of its ambition to make healthy and sustainable diets easy for everyone, the Health from IGD team has joined forces with leading retailers and manufacturers, and researchers at the University of Leeds, to trial a series of interventions to see what truly drives long-term behavioural change.

Last summer, 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. Members of the project group have already begun to trial some of those strategies in real-life settings, in a set of research interventions being rigorously designed and implemented by IGD’s chosen research partner, the University of Leeds, through its Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) and Consumer Data Research Centre.

To analyse the results, the team from LIDA will capture and measure sales data from each intervention, enabling the project group to see exactly what is going on in people’s shopping baskets and assess what levers truly drive long-term behaviour change.

As part of this work, IGD has also launched a brand-new hub of inspiring industry insight on healthy and sustainable diets, bringing together a wealth of resources in one place, where the results of the trials with LIDA will also be housed: igd.com/shiftbehaviour.

Hannah Pearse, Head of Nutrition at IGD, said: “As part of our Social Impact ambition, we want to make healthy and sustainable diets easy for everyone, by leading industry collaboration and building greater knowledge of what really works. Our Appetite for Change research tells us that 57%1 of people are open to changing their diets to be healthy and more sustainable, and they welcome help to do it. But we also know that people don’t like to be told what to do and information alone is unlikely to change behaviour.

“We believe consumers will make this transition if we make it easier for them; that’s why we are delighted to be partnering with our industry project group and our research partners at the University of Leeds, to pilot this series of interventions over the coming months. The team at LIDA are experts in capturing, storing and analysing big data and have a variety of academic specialties that will be critical for this work.”

Dr Michelle Morris, who leads the Nutrition and Lifestyle Analytics team at LIDA, says: “I am passionate about helping our population move towards a diet that is both healthier and more sustainable. I believe that unlocking the power of anonymous consumer data, collected by retailers and manufacturers, is a really important step towards this goal. Working with IGD and its members to evaluate their healthy and sustainable diets programme is very exciting – testing strategies to change purchasing behaviour and evaluating the wider impact of these changes.”

The members involved in the voluntary trials are testing five ‘behavioural levers’, as identified through IGD’s Appetite for Change research series:

  • Signposting – signage and messaging to highlight better choices
  • Placement – prime positioning (in-store and online)
  • Product – availability and appeal
  • Influence – influencers and recipe inspiration
  • Incentivisation – incentivising trial 

Rachel Hackett, Group Sustainability Director at 2 Sisters Food Group and co-chair of IGD’s Healthier and Sustainable Diets project group, says: “As part of this exciting project, food businesses will explore how to help consumers make healthier and more sustainable dietary choices through simple interventions that encourage changes in behaviour. Working with experts at IGD and the University of Leeds, we will be able to determine which of these have the most impact, bringing about lasting positive dietary changes, and share these insights across the industry.”

Joanne Lunn, Health Manager at Waitrose and co-chair of IGD’s Healthier and Sustainable Diets project group, said: "We know that many shoppers want to enjoy a healthier and more sustainable diet, and retailers can play a key role in helping them to do so. This collaboration brings together experts from across the industry to find the most effective ways to help customers make more informed choices." 

IGD’s Hannah Pearse adds: “This project takes us one step further towards realising our longer-term ambition, to establish what levers truly inspire sustained behaviour change and help our industry scale up those interventions to create wide-reaching social impact.

“As we roll out these interventions with our industry partners, it will be fascinating to see what results come back. We will share our findings as to what does and doesn’t work publicly and widely, to inspire others to adopt our best practice, so together we can drive tangible, positive change.”

Visit IGD’s brand-new hub of inspiring industry insight and resources to drive change in your organisation and to find out more about our healthy and sustainable diets work.

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

Notes to editors:

  1. All content is owned by IGD. If you use or refer to any content in this press release, please credit IGD
  2. Follow us on Twitter: @fromIGD and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/igd/
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. IGD’s Healthy and Sustainable Diets Project Group 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.
  7. 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 Guide2 as the current direction of travel. It is widely accepted that this way of eating is beneficial both for our health and the planet.3
  8. The CGF and IGD, working with the food and consumer goods industry, have a shared ambition to help consumers adopt healthier and more sustainable diets. For many years, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and IGD have worked on respective projects to drive positive change in the consumer goods industry and for the people they serve worldwide. Through its Collaboration for Healthier Lives (CHL) Coalition, the CGF drives collaborative action to make it easier for consumers to adopt healthier lifestyles for themselves and their families; while IGD convenes stakeholders across the food and consumer goods industry to address the economic, social and environmental issues that matter to us all, driving tangible change to deliver social impact. The common CGF-IGD ambition to facilitate healthier and more sustainable choices for people around the world offers a valuable opportunity to amplify efforts to drive industry collaboration, build knowledge, and share learnings. More on CGF CHL: https://www.theconsumergoodsforum.com/health-wellness/healthier-lives/

1 Source: IGD, Appetite for Change: how have consumer attitudes to healthy and sustainable diets changed in the wake of Covid-19 September 2020,

2 Source: Public Health England in association with the Welsh Government, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland

3 Source: The Carbon Trust (2016) ‘The Eatwell Guide: Modelling the Health Implications of Incorporating New Sugar and Fibre Guidelines’