The Children’s Food Campaign has launched a report naming Asda, Morrisons and Iceland as the “worst offenders” for undermining parents’ efforts to feed their children healthily, by displaying “junk food” on four out of five checkouts in their stores.
The Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose were also criticised for making families have to queue past displays of “unhealthy snacks” to reach the tills.
The Checkouts Checked Out report found that most supermarket branches and high street stores routinely promote unhealthy snacks at their checkout tills and in their queuing areas, despite several having promised a decade ago to reduce this unhealthy marketing practice.
The report found that in many cases, “junk food” was positioned at children’s eye level, prompting children to pester their parents for sweets, crisps and soft drinks. The authors of the report, who campaign for children’s health, have called for junk to be removed from the checkouts once and for all.
Key findings in the Checkouts Checked Out report were:
- ‘No change at the till’ as most high-street supermarkets continue to promote and sell “unhealthy snacks” at the checkout, a decade after promises to reduce or remove them.
- Bad practices now spreading to smaller format stores and non-food retailers such as HMV, New Look, Superdrug and WHSmith, who all feature sweets and chocolates in the queuing area near the checkouts, and do not offer healthy alternatives.
Sophie Durham, Children’s Food Campaign spokesperson and co-author of the Checkouts Checked Out report, said: “Impulse purchases at the checkout can add several hundred unplanned calories to a family shopping basket. Supermarkets claim to be responsible retailers, yet they continue to put their profits ahead of families’ health.
“They should stop prompting pester power and help parents by removing promotions of sugary, fatty, salty and calorie-laden snacks and drinks near the checkouts, especially those placed within easy reach of children. It’s time to get the junk off the checkouts once and for all.”