UK apple eating

IGD (Institute of Grocery Distribution) has joined forces with the University of Leeds and the Food and Consumer Goods Industry to identify practical ways to make healthy and sustainable diets attractive and accessible for UK consumers.

The organisation’s health team is working with leading retailers and manufacturers, and researchers at the University of Leeds, to trial a series of interventions – such as product placement, signage and recipes – to see what truly drives consumers to change their diets long-term.

IGD last summer convened a healthy and sustainable diets project group to collaboratively identify and test strategies that could encourage people to make healthier, more sustainable food and drink choices. Members of the project group have already begun to trial some of those strategies in real-life settings, in a set of research interventions being rigorously designed and implemented by IGD’s chosen research partner, the University of Leeds, through its Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) and Consumer Data Research Centre.

To analyse the results, the team from LIDA will capture and measure sales data from each intervention, enabling the project group to see exactly what is going on in people’s shopping baskets and assess what levers truly drive long-term behaviour change.

As part of this work, IGD has also launched a brand-new hub of inspiring industry insight on healthy and sustainable diets, bringing together a wealth of resources in one place, where the results of the trials with LIDA will also be housed:

Hannah Pearse, head of nutrition at IGD, said: “As part of our Social Impact ambition, we want to make healthy and sustainable diets easy for everyone, by leading industry collaboration and building greater knowledge of what really works. Our Appetite for Change research tells us that 57 per cent of people are open to changing their diets to be healthy and more sustainable, and they welcome help to do it. But we also know that people don’t like to be told what to do and information alone is unlikely to change behaviour.

“We believe consumers will make this transition if we make it easier for them; that’s why we are delighted to be partnering with our industry project group and our research partners at the University of Leeds, to pilot this series of interventions over the coming months. The team at LIDA are experts in capturing, storing and analysing big data and have a variety of academic specialties that will be critical for this work.”

Dr Michelle Morris, who leads the Nutrition and Lifestyle Analytics team at LIDA, says: “I am passionate about helping our population move towards a diet that is both healthier and more sustainable. I believe that unlocking the power of anonymous consumer data, collected by retailers and manufacturers, is a really important step towards this goal. Working with IGD and its members to evaluate their healthy and sustainable diets programme is very exciting – testing strategies to change purchasing behaviour and evaluating the wider impact of these changes.”

The members involved in the voluntary trials are testing five ‘behavioural levers’, as identified through IGD’s Appetite for Change research series:
• Signposting – signage and messaging to highlight better choices
• Placement – prime positioning (in-store and online)
• Product – availability and appeal
• Influence – influencers and recipe inspiration
• Incentivisation – incentivising trial

“This project takes us one step further towards realising our longer-term ambition, to establish what levers truly inspire sustained behaviour change and help our industry scale up those interventions to create wide-reaching social impact,” Pearse added.

“As we roll out these interventions with our industry partners, it will be fascinating to see what results come back. We will share our findings as to what does and doesn’t work publicly and widely, to inspire others to adopt our best practice, so together we can drive tangible, positive change.”