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Tesco sets health targets after shareholder pressure

Published on March 05, 2021

British supermarket chain Tesco announced Friday targets to offer more nutritious foods following pressure from shareholders to take part in efforts to combat obesity.

Britain’s top supermarket said it would strive to raise sales of healthy products to 65 percent of total sales by 2025, up from 58 percent currently.

It also set 2025 targets for increasing sales of plant-based meat alternatives by four, as well as having its prepared meals contain at least one of the five daily government-recommended fruit and vegetable portions.

In order to reach the goals Tesco said it will make changes to the composition of its products — without changing the taste — to reduce salt, sugar, fat and calories.

The supermarket also said it will strive to ensure the healthy products are not more expensive.

“Customers are telling us they want to eat a more healthy, sustainable diet, but without having to stretch the weekly shopping budget,” Tesco Group CEO Ken Murphy was quoted as saying in a statement.

“We’ve worked hard to help our customers eat healthily and we’re proud of our track record, and it’s clear we can do more,” he added.

However the announcement followed a resolution submitted by several shareholder for the upcoming annual meeting to force the supermarket to produce more healthier products.

The activist group ShareAction, which coordinated the shareholder action, said it was the first health-based shareholder resolution filed at a UK-listed company.

While there remain questions to be answered about Tesco’s pledges, ShareAction said it looks forward to working with Tesco and food manufacturers to meet the challenge of improving diets.

“Tesco’s new plans are an important recognition of the role supermarkets play in shaping our diets, at a time when our health has never been more critical,” said Jessica Attard, who handles health issues at the group.

She added that “today’s news demonstrates the power of investor engagement.”

Data released by Britain’s National Health Service last year showed that two-thirds of adult men in England were overweight or obese, and 60 percent of women.