Put simple "Health Score" on produce, consultants urge

A new report by international management consultancy Oliver Wyman has urged UK supermarkets to ditch "confusing" traffic light indicators on grocery packaging for a simple point score, which would rate fresh produce highly, as part of a wider strategy to tackle obesity.

Image Anthony Albright
Image Anthony Albright

The Fighting Fat report says that by adopting an integrated approach combining community health checks, fitness classes and food labelling initiatives into one "wellness offering", the Big Four food retailers "will not only be leaders in combating the UK obesity crisis, but will have a ground-breaking proposition for customers".

Report leader Dr Nick Harrison said: "By providing customers with new experiences and services related to wellness, they could strengthen their loyalty proposition to give them a significant competitive advantage. The race is now on for the first retailer to put our recommendations into practice in order to get a head start within this highly competitive retail environment."

The report says the current traffic-light system for food products "is complicated and can be confusing to customers", as it requires them to make "mental trade-offs" between five different categories (calories, sugar, fats, saturates, salt).

Instead it proposes that each product label would show only two figures: a Health Score ranging from -2 (unhealthy) to +2 (healthy), based on the overall nutritional value, and the number of portions the pack contains.

"At the checkout, the Health Score and the portion count would be combined, providing an overall score for the whole shopping basket," it explains, giving the example of an individual apple scoring +2, so a pack of eight would yield an overall score of 16.

"This would help the customer quickly asses the healthiness of the range of food they are buying for their family," it says, but adds: "Government guidance would be required to set the framework for these health scores,for example by mandating the rules covering calories, sugar, fats, saturates, and salt proportions that, when combined, calculate the overall Health Score."

The report is available to download free from the Oliver Wyman website.


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