Tesco sets health target in response to shareholder challenge


Responding to a shareholder resolution co-ordinated by ShareAction, Tesco has today set a target to increase the proportion of sales from healthier products to 65% by 2025. The supermarket giant commits to publish a strategy to achieve this goal and to report on its progress annually, as requested by the shareholder proposal filed in February.

With 27% of the British grocery market, Tesco has an outsized influence on the nation’s health and its announcement is a significant achievement for shareholder engagement on health issues. ShareAction’s resolution was the first health-based resolution to be filed at a UK-listed company, reflecting rising investor concerns with companies’ health impacts in light of the Covid crisis.

With the resolution still set to be put to shareholders at the company’s AGM, ShareAction said the investor group looks forward to continuing engagement with Tesco to address remaining questions about the scope of the supermarket’s plans and the methodology it is using to categorise healthier products. 

It said the plans that Tesco has announced cover only its Tesco-branded UK stores and exclude other parts of its business, such as Budgens and Londis-branded convenience stores, which are owned by Tesco, through Booker, and its international operations.

The responsible investment NGO said that work is also needed to better understand the definition used by Tesco to categorise products as healthier. The Healthy Markets coalition will continue to press for high quality, comparable data from all food retailers and manufacturers.

Jessica Attard, head of health at ShareAction, said: “Today’s news demonstrates the power of investor engagement. Tesco’s new plans are an important recognition of the role supermarkets play in shaping our diets, at a time when our health has never been more critical. We look forward to continuing to work with Tesco, and to seeing other supermarkets and food manufacturers step up to this challenge.”

Peter van der Werf, senior engagement specialist at Robeco, said: “We are pleased that Tesco recognizes the need to take action on nutrition and is now ready to announce the nutrition target for 2025 in the Little Helps Plan. It shows once more that engagement with companies, and filing shareholder resolutions is a powerful tool to help companies moving in a more sustainable direction. We thank Tesco for their willingness to discuss these important matters with us as investors, as we believe this is in the long term interest of both the company, our clients and broader society.”