Children at school

Childhood obesity

Creating healthier food options for children through investor dialogue

We're working with ShareAction to bring together investors to ask food and drink companies to play their part in building healthier food environments

Key partnership information

Partner: ShareAction

Funding amount: £1,300,000

Duration: May 2019 – May 2021

Programme: childhood obesity

 

What we’re doing together

ShareAction is a registered charity who specialise in working with investors to positively influence the behaviour and impact of large companies. Their campaigns use a multi-faceted approach to apply pressure on large listed companies, maximising the potential for change.

Through our funding ShareAction have established the Healthy Markets campaign which will work with investors in food retailers and manufacturers to drive healthier food environments.

ShareAction will achieve this by working with investors in their investor coalition to drive impact. They’ll benchmark food companies against one another, make tailored asks of companies at their AGMs, coordinate investor-signed letters, and in some instances, they’ll file investor resolutions where companies aren’t sufficiently responding. The Healthy Markets investor coalition now has over £1tn worth of assets under management and is continuing to grow in its membership.

 

UK product profile: report

With ShareAction and the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), we produced a report on the transparency of nutritional content in food and drinks sold in the UK.

The report reviews the 10 largest food retailers’ disclosure on nutrition, and reveals a critical lack of transparency around health commitments across the sector.

It’s the first report of its kind and provides crucial insight into levels of transparency around company health commitments and actions. 

Assessed against eight key criteria, the report found that none of the retailers scored higher than a D grade (on a scale of A-E), with the best performing retailer reporting on 35% of the indicators, and the worst reporting on 7%. 

The report’s findings demonstrate a critical lack of disclosure by all 10 retailers. Against the eight key areas used to measure levels of disclosure (100% meaning total transparency), each supermarket chain scored as follows:

  • Sainsbury’s 35% (Grade D)
  • Marks & Spencer 33% (Grade D)
  • Tesco 30% (Grade D)
  • Co-op 30% (Grade D)
  • Lidl UK 25% (Grade D)
  • Morrisons 20% (Grade E)
  • Aldi 19% (Grade E)
  • Waitrose 15% (Grade E)
  • Asda 8% (Grade E)
  • Iceland 7% (Grade E)

The Product Profile found that only 937 of all products analysed (31%) met the healthy threshold of 3.5 stars. The other 2,132 products (69%) fell below that level.

 

Aims of the partnership

Our environments have a huge impact on our health, and food and drink manufacturers and retailers play a significant role in shaping our diets. In the UK, two of every three pounds spent on food to be eaten in the home, is in supermarkets.

Our partnership with ShareAction seeks to drive impactful change through asking food companies to be clearer, more transparent and more ambitious in their public commitments around health and their policies to deliver these commitments. Ultimately calling on companies to decouple their overall growth in sales with the sale of unhealthy products.

 

Connection to our strategy

Evidence has shown the consumption of too many calories is a major driver of childhood obesity. In line with our childhood obesity programme strategy, which aims to change environments, we see an opportunity to influence food companies to reduce the number of calories offered to children and families through investor dialogue.

Working with and through businesses is an explicit part of how we plan to achieve the impact goals of our childhood obesity programme. With customer preferences shifting towards healthier and low sugar products, there are financial, reputational and operational risks for companies that fail to respond.

More about ShareAction

ShareAction is a registered charity who specialise in working with investors to positively influence the behaviour and impact of large companies.

Visit the ShareAction site

Have questions about our partnership with ShareAction?

Louise Foreman leads our work with ShareAction.

Contact Louise to find out more