U.K.: Sainsbury’s to make veg more appealing, accessible

October 26 , 2017

British retailer Sainsbury’s has announced a four-pronged approach to help raise vegetable consumption in the U.K., including positive messaging, education and a greater presence for the category.

The retailer’s new so-called S.A.G.E. strategy focuses on four key action areas: 
- To make veg more Sexy
- To make veg more Accessible
- To ensure it offers Great quality
- To provide consumers Education

Announcing its pledge to the Food Foundation’s Peas Please initiative at The Veg Summit on Oct. 24, Sainsbury’s head of quality, safety and supplier performance Alec Kyriakides said the retailer was delighted to be one of the founding members of Peas Please. 

“In the nutritional arena most messages have been about what you should stop doing or reduce eating,” he explained. 

“This is the opportunity to tell people to eat more – to eat more veg.

“We’re proud to be offering healthy, nutritious products. We see this as a collective effort to help the nation live healthier lives.”

1. ’Sexy’ veg

To encourage shoppers, Kyriakides said the industry needed to make consuming vegetables more appealing.

“We need to be more upbeat about veg,” he said. “We absolutely must make consuming veg something sexy to do. We have to create that desire.”

To that end, Sainsbury’s has pledged to promote the benefits of eating vegetables through its digital channels by ensuring vegetables are either on the homepage or fresh produce landing pages of its website.

In addition, the retailer promises to always include at least two portions of vegetables in its ‘main meals’ recipes site, plus provide positive messages about vegetables within its recipes.

“We can make things more appealing by putting veg on the landing pages of our website, and by making sure it’s in the fresh aisle on the website,” he explained.

“When consumers click on the website they’ll now see a particular section about seasonal vegetables, a recipe for a vegetable like butternut squash and information on what’s best in season. 

“As well as that, we can shout out more about vegetables on social media and in the press. There’s a lot more we can do to make veg sexy.”

2. ‘Accessible veg’

Once the desire has been created, Kyriakides said the industry must fulfill that demand by making veg more accessible. 

As such, in Sainsbury’s main stores' vegetables will always be positioned in higher footfall areas. 

The retailer also pledged to always include a vegetable option when it has a fresh inspirational plinth, and it will ensure at least one vegetable is listed on produce promotional space.

“These are all areas where we can make veg more accessible,” he noted. “All of our main recipe meals will have two portions of veg.”

The retailer will also include vegetable-based recipes when sharing information with media.

Kyriakides added that Sainsbury’s recently launched a vegan sandwich, which has been a hit with both vegan and mainstream shoppers.

3. ‘Great quality veg’

Sainsbury’s also promised to increase by 30 the number of products that contain a ‘One of Your 5-A-Day’ message, as well as including a ‘One of Your 5-A-Day’ promise into new product development briefs for soups, sandwiches, salads and ready meals.

“Through product development we can deliver increased veg,” Kyriakides said. “We are putting veg into our product briefs, and we will significantly increase the number of veg products in our 5-A-Day range.”

4. Education

While Kyriakides admitted that education does not represent a formal part of its pledge campaign, he said consumer education is vital nonetheless.

“We see education as absolutely essential to encourage a healthy lifestyle right from the start,” he noted. “That’s what we do through the Sainsbury’s Active Kids campaign.”

In addition, Sainsbury’s pledged to communicate to stores that the government’s Healthy Start vouchers can be spent on vegetables to encourage customers to use those tokens to buy vegetables.

Kyriakides also mentioned that the retailer regularly talks with its 195,000 colleagues to excite and engage them about Sainsbury’s product offer.

In summary, Kyriakides added that Sainsbury’s is “absolutely committed” to living up these pledges.

“It makes sense for our business and customers, and we want everyone to be living healthy lives,” he pointed out.

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