Are retailers doing enough to make our food healthier? Spoon Guru’s chairman, Andy Clarke, weighs in on Sky News

Are retailers doing enough to make our food healthier? Spoon Guru’s chairman, Andy Clarke, weighs in on Sky News

Wednesday 02 June, 2021: London

This week The Financial Times reported on leaked internal documents from Nestle stating that 60% of their food portfolio would be classified as ‘unhealthy’.

A recent study found that 7 in 10 adults have said that they are motivated to make healthier lifestyle changes as a direct result of the COVID pandemic, and 29% of UK consumers have actually gone ahead and made changes to their diet. However, 3 out of 4 shoppers (75%) believe supermarkets don’t do enough to support health.

In parallel to the shift in consumer behaviour, we are also seeing legislative pressures on retailers by the government. We have simplified and explained the newest HFSS regulations in another post and how it will impact the retailers. In light of all this, Sky’s Emma Crosby spoke to the chairman of Spoon Guru, Andy Clarke, about whether or not big retailers are doing enough to make our food healthier. This important conversation is aligned with Spoon Guru’s vision, which is to drive positive change at scale, enable truly personalised experiences, create better consumer outcomes, and increase value for our retail and technology partners.

The interview began by outlining that this news comes at a time when pressure is increasing on all parts of the food supply and service chain to make products healthier. That pressure comes from regulators, but most importantly it also comes from consumers, with trends for healthier eating growing particularly fast.

To the question – “How much pressure is the supermarket industry under to help consumers eat more healthily?”

Andy Clarke replied:

“Undoubtedly the food retail industry has been under a lot of pressure for many years. I remember many campaigns, and I guess it’s only accelerated over the course of the last 12 months. Some of that’s been driven, I think, by the Covid pandemic, but certainly by the pressure that consumers are now applying to retailers and food manufacturers is only increasing. And technology of course is making it even easier for customers to see how healthy products are.”

When asked to elaborate on how Spoon Guru’s AI technology helps to support this, he replied:

“Well we’re working with one of the major UK retailers and have been for some time. So if you go online to buy your groceries, you can preselect dietary choices – so whether that’s low sugar, low salt, low fat, whether you’re vegan or you have an ethnicity profile that means you eat only certain things. So your basket of groceries is simplified – so you can only buy the products you want to buy, you’re not shown them in the catalog online. I think what we’ve recognised is that customers want simplification, and it’s actually quite a complex world for families, particularly for some families who have multiple dietary needs, so anything that technology can bring to the table that can simplify that shopping experience is a bonus.”

Andy was also pressed for his view on the Nestle news, and particularly how big a problem this leaked report is for such a large food production company. To this he made the point that:

“The most important thing is that customers want choice, they don’t want to be preached about… what they should always be eating – it’s always about a balanced diet.”

Emma Crosby expressed concern at some of the nutritional information leaked in the report, including “a fizzy drink that had 7g of sugar per 100ml, flavoured milk packed with sugar described as a perfect breakfast for kids, and a pizza that had ½ your daily salt intake in just one serving…” before adding “A lot of consumers don’t know what they’re buying and that’s the problem isn’t it?”

Spoon Guru’s technology is designed to give shoppers greater visibility at an ingredient level, and give them a choice when it comes to the healthiness of the food they purchase. As Andy Clarke said:

“Yes, and that’s certainly where, with the technology that Spoon Guru has, we can give that visibility to shoppers. I’ve seen a number of recent campaigns by British supermarkets that are making strides with the accessibility of healthy foods.

Technology will make it even easier, so I think whether it’s Nestle or Coke or any of these other big brands, they’re trying to find solutions to give choices to customers, whether it’s a healthy choice or a less healthy choice, but I think it’s about a balanced diet.

And certainly technology can play a much more important part. The whole debate about personalisation, which of  course has accelerated with the growth of online shopping, means that retailers have to keep up. And maybe in the past when they haven’t made the investments they’ve made before, and I can probably be accused of being guilty of that in my term as CEO of Asda, but now you can’t do that anymore, you have to embrace technology – as a retailer and manufacturer – because the customer is king & queen you’ve got to give them the choices and make it easier for them to shop for their families and through technology profiling then that can happen.”

Spoon Guru is a leading solution provider for retailers. We help unlock revenue, increase loyalty and improve NPS by delivering a seamless, personalised and accurate product discovery experience for shoppers based on their dietary and lifestyle needs.

Our domain knowledge in nutrition and sustainability, ability to plan for developing trends and our sophisticated machine learning model makes us the preferred choice for retailers. We prove our commitment to our client’s success by delivering innovative solutions with speed, efficiency and minimal disruption to their operations.

To hear the full interview, listen to the Ian King Business Podcast (the interview starts at 18:30).

If you’d like to find out more about how Spoon Guru can help your business, contact us here.

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Sarah Crawley