Castlefield are signatories to ShareAction’s Healthy Markets initiative which aims to tackle rising childhood obesity levels by mobilising the investment industry to generate positive impact. The recently launched initiative works with investors, manufacturers and retailers to support children and families to live healthier lives.
Access to Nutrition Initiative’s (ATNI) UK product profile found that nearly 70% of products sold in UK supermarkets are rated as ‘unhealthy’. Therefore, it is not a surprise that our shopping baskets tend to be filled with products high in salt, sugar and fat, which contribute to weight gain and obesity.
Childhood obesity is associated with poor physical and mental health, and children from less affluent backgrounds are disproportionately affected. Currently one in three children in the UK are overweight or obese, and children who are obese are five times more likely to be obese as adults. Treating overweight and obesity-related ill health costs the NHS an estimated £6.1bn a year and a total of £27bn to the economy through reduced productivity and growth.
In addition to the mounting economic and societal costs, there are also significant risks for businesses. These include: the greater likelihood of regulation and taxes; potentially losing market share if they fail to adequately respond to the growing demand for affordable healthier options; and reputational damage if they are not perceived by customers, and other stakeholders to be taking the right approach. Conversely, businesses that shift their strategy towards selling a wider and larger range of healthier products are more likely to realise commercial and reputational benefits.
Working in collaboration with ShareAction, ATNI have recently published the first UK retailers’ benchmark to determine the contribution the UK’s major retailers are making to tackling childhood obesity. The scope of the report is limited to assessing the extent of their public commitments, rather than whether they are actually implementing these actions. The full report can be found here - https://accesstonutrition.org/app/uploads/2020/03/ATNI-UK-Supermarket-Spotlight-report-FINAL.pdf
It is important to assess the retailers as they play a crucial role in influencing consumers’ food and drink consumption through the formulation, packaging, labelling, pricing, promotion, positioning and advertising of both their own-brand and branded products. Over half of their food sales are now made up of own brand products,2 the nutritional quality of which they control. Therefore, the UK food retailers can play a crucial role in addressing the UK’s poor eating habits.
The report finds that although most of the retailers recognise they have a role to play in addressing the UK’s diet and health related challenges, their disclosure is limited in many respects. Poor reporting means that performance across companies cannot be compared, limiting the scope for healthy competition between retailers. As part of ShareAction’s investor coalition we will be engaging with companies to encourage them to significantly increase disclosure and to deliver improvements in their policies and practices to support healthy eating.
Information is accurate as at 17.03.2020. This material may not be distributed, published or reproduced in whole or in part.
 ATNI (2019), UK Product Profile
 ANTI (2020), UK Supermarket Spotlight
 ShareAction (2019), Hitting the Sweet Spot: The Investment Case for Solutions to Childhood Obesity