Choosing the healthy option: a bit easier at Ekoplaza, Lidl, Dirk and Coop

Oct 13, 2020

“Superlist Health” shows that all supermarkets should do more to make healthy food the easiest choice

“Superlist Health” is the first ranking that compares what eight Dutch supermarkets are doing to support their customers in choosing healthy food and drinks. Ekoplaza, Lidl, Dirk and Coop are the front-runners; Jumbo, Plus, Aldi and Albert Heijn are running behind. The report shows that there are large differences between the supermarket chains, regardless of their formula or market share.

In general, supermarkets do not discourage unhealthy food options enough:

  • 82% of promotions in weekly folders are unhealthy;
  • Almost all supermarkets have candy and chocolate available for impulse buying at the checkout;
  • Supermarkets do not set clear goals to sell less unhealthy food products.

The report also indicates what individual supermarkets are doing well. For example, there is a supermarket chain that no longer offers unhealthy food at the checkout and another chain that uses Disney-characters to make healthy products attractive to children. In general, every supermarket could learn something from others.

These are the conclusions from the survey published today, initiated and conducted by the research foundation Questionmark, in collaboration with the Dutch Diabetes Foundation (Diabetes Fonds), the Dutch Heart Foundation (Hartstichting), the Dutch Stomach Liver Bowel Foundation (Maag Lever Darm Stichting) and the Dutch Kidney Foundation (Nierstichting), which are working together in the Dutch Food Alliance for the Healthy Generation.

Supermarkets’ huge influence on dietary pattern

Unhealthy food is currently the most important preventable cause of death, and lost years of healthy life, after smoking. Questionmark and the Food Alliance for the Healthy Generation want healthy food to become the norm.

Charlotte Linnebank, director of Questionmark, stressed, “It is crucial that supermarkets do more to help people eat a healthier diet.  As 70 percent of our daily food intake comes from supermarkets they have a massive influence on the choices people make when shopping and could use this influence to encourage healthy eating. Superlist shows supermarkets where they can do more.”

 Supermarkets are not fulfilling their promises

In the Dutch National Overweight Prevention Agreement (2018), supermarkets made commitments to help their customers increase the share of foods that meet the Dutch wheel of 5 nutrition criteria in their diet, but Health Superlist shows that few steps are being taken to turn these commitments into actions. In areas with significant impact on health, such as marketing unhealthy products to children, insufficient action is being taken. In some product groups, such as dry bread products (biscuits, crackers), there are almost no products that meet the Dutch nutrition standards across supermarkets.

Carolien Martens, spokesperson for the Dutch Food Alliance for the Healthy Generation, explained, “To be able to take steps each year and to add measures where necessary , there is a lot of value in monitoring progress based on measurable data and goals. We consider this year’s Health Superlist as a baseline measurement that shows that every supermarket has enormous possibilities to improve, and that there are many opportunities for supermarkets to support healthy eating.”

The Alliance calls on supermarkets to take more action and fulfil the promises they have made. Martens added, “For the entire sector there is a great opportunity in the short term to contribute much more and ensure that a healthy generation of children and adolescents grows up in a society in which healthy food really is the norm.”

Based on the research results and the weighting, research methodology published in June 2020, a ranking of the supermarkets was prepared. The ranking shows which supermarkets belong to the Front runners, the laggards and which are average according to how well they help their customers to make the healthy choice.

You can read a summary of the report here.

More information

Press contact for the survey: Annelore van der Lint | annelore@thequestionmark.org | +31 (0)6 290 73 879
Press contact for the Food Alliance for the Healthy Generation: Lara Schreuder | l.schreuder@diabetesfonds.nl | +31 (0) 33 303 2071