Campaigning to curb supermarket power

Unhealthy Food


Supermarkets encourage the consumption of unhealthy foods, such as heavily processed ready meals high in salt and sugar content. Supermarket practices include:

  • the majority of promotions such as two-for-one offers being for ready meals and junk food, and rarely for fresh fruit and vegetables

  • snacks such as chocolate being offered at the checkout

  • high salt content in own-brand foods

  • misleading and complicated nutritional labelling and information and a lack of information about nutrition and healthy food choices


The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, published a report in March 2012 on improving nutrition and reducing hunger. He stated that : “Urbanization, supermarketization and the global spread of modern lifestyles have shaken up traditional food habits. The result is a public health disaster.”


In April 2012, The Childrens' Food Campaign published a report on checkout snack foods. In a survey of 48 branches of 14 national chains, the study concluded that unhealthy snacks were regularly positioned at the checkout in order to encouraging buying by parents through 'pester power'.


There are also issues with the basic goods sold by supermarkets. A Real Bread Campaign report in 2010 highlighted the use of hidden additives in the bread from in-store bakeries.


The journalist Felicity Lawrence writing in the Guardian, November 2010, highlighted how Tesco has been a leading opponent of the traffic light food labelling scheme favoured by the Food Standards Agency.


The Food Commission campaigns for quality, healthy food to be more widely available, as a right for people to have access to. Read for more information about food health, labelling, and the promotion of unhealthy food to children.