Tesco Group PLC extends healthy food commitment after pressure from shareholders

Will Kreznick

ShareAction said the grocer has “set a precedent” for other supermarkets to ensure health is a priority Under pressure from shareholders, Tesco Group PLC () has set targets to increase the sale of healthier food and drinks across its group operations. After a shareholder resolution was filed ahead of its […]

ShareAction said the grocer has “set a precedent” for other supermarkets to ensure health is a priority

Under pressure from shareholders, Tesco Group PLC () has set targets to increase the sale of healthier food and drinks across its group operations.

After a shareholder resolution was filed ahead of its annual general meeting on the subject of healthy eating, Tesco in March committed to increasing sales of healthy products from 58% to 65% of total sales in its UK and Irish stores by 2025.

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But today, following continued pressure from a group of seven institutional investors and the ShareAction responsible investment charity, Britain’s largest grocery group extended the commitment its European supermarkets and Booker wholesale businesses.

As a result, the coalition of investors is withdrawing its AGM resolution.

Tesco has agreed to continue a two-year process of engagement with ShareAction and investors in the Healthy Markets Coalition, as the company implements the new commitments.

To meet the targets, Tesco said it will reformulate products to remove “billions of calories and thousands of tons of salt, fat and sugar from products”.

Louisa Hodge at ShareAction, said: “Investors are recognizing the importance of health. They see the risks and opportunities supermarkets face, given their outsized role in shaping our diets.

“By filing a shareholder resolution, our investor coalition sent a strong message to Tesco and to other supermarkets that shifting sales toward healthier options is important.”

She added that Tesco has “set a precedent” for other grocers and retailers to ensure health is a priority.

Sarah Bradbury, group quality director at Tesco, said: “We share the same goal as ShareAction to make it easier for our customers to eat more healthily, and we’re pleased to now broaden our public commitments to Booker and our Central Europe business. These new commitments will ensure that every customer – wherever and however they shop with us – will have even greater access to affordable, healthy and sustainable food.”

The seven institutions that filed the AGM resolution were Robeco, JO Hambro, the Methodist Church’s Epworth Investment Management, Jesuits in Britain, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, The Marmot Charitable Trust and The 1970 Trust, some of which were helped by Rathbone Greenbank Investments. Over 100 individual retail investors also co-filed the resolution.

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