Food Environments Push Consumers Towards Unhealthy Food Items

By Robert McHugh
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Food Environments Push Consumers Towards Unhealthy Food Items

A new report by BEUC titled The illusion of choice - Why someone already decided what you will eat for lunch has highlighted how buying, preparing and consuming food are largely the result of food sector decisions rather than consumer choices.

BEUC is an umbrella group representing 45 independent consumer organisations from 31 countries.

The report calls on policy makers to make healthy, more plant-based diets with ‘less and better’ animal products easy for European consumers.

Cheapest Option

The report coincides with the release of a new evidence review by SAPEA, a consortium of independent scientists advising the European Commission, which confirms the strong influences consumers’ eating choices are subjected to.

Both studies suggest that the 'food environment' conditions the choices people face. This concept includes the food sector’s marketing and advertising, promotional offers, food availability and price, and even the spatial layout of shops and supermarkets.


Currently, BEUC said food environments largely push consumers towards unhealthy and unsustainable foods which are the most available, advertised, and often the cheapest options too.

'Healthier And Greener'

“Why does it often cost more to buy fruit than a bag of unhealthy snacks? Eating healthily and sustainably should become the regular choice, not the luxury one," said Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC.

"Supermarkets must stop offering deals that push us towards food and drink products we need to consume less of, and instead target price promotions to support healthier and greener diets."

"Governments too need to step in to ensure all consumers can afford buying food that is good for their health and the planet.”

© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Robert McHugh. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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