Tesco Takes a Stand: Candy-Free Checkout Counters (Updated)

By Elle Alexander

“Our customers told us that removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts would help them make healthier choices, so from today our checkouts will be sweet and chocolate-free zones.”

– David Wood, Managing Director of Health and Wellness, Tesco


Parents with young children (and let’s be honest, most of us!) are familiar with the challenge of getting through the grocery store checkout line without a meltdown over a candy bar strategically placed by the checkout counter.

Public health advocates and conscious consumers everywhere were thrilled with Tesco’s announcement in May 2014 to remove sweets and chocolates from checkouts across the UK. Tesco’s pledge came the same week as WHO announced a Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, gathering  a group of multidisciplinary experts to produce a report specifying effective approaches and interventions to address obesity across the globe.

Helping us with our New Year’s Resolutions, Tesco followed up on January 1, 2015, removing sweets and chocolates from the checkouts in all 2,000 stores in the UK, even taking things a step further by promoting healthier alternatives under the campaign #onelittlechange.

Tesco’s removal of candy from checkout aisles supports basic behavioral economic principles and the guidance of nutrition experts to promote healthier food purchases and consumption by making unhealthy foods less easily accessible. Consumers are still free to purchase these products, but must find them in the appropriate aisle.

This strategic business move by Tesco is one in a recent series of decisions by large businesses to change practices to promote health. CVS Caremark decided to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products across the US. This decision raised the discussion about business supporting consumer health, and the CVS stock price had increased over 17% since the announcement in February 2014.

Tesco was also the first UK supermarket to remove sweets and chocolates from large stores in 1994, and is committed to using its scale for good. Smart businesses considering long term financial sustainability are working to promote healthy consumers. Porter and Kramer discuss creating shared value, “policies and operating practices that enhance the competiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates.”

See their “Healthy Checkout” video, below.

We support Tesco’s leadership to support health and create shared value, promoting healthier choices for consumers across the UK. We believe that making markets work for health is essential for healthier, more sustainable lifestyles to be achieved at the population level.

So now more than ever, the question is: Will the US follow?


This blog was updated on 28 January, 2015

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