Dutch supermarkets don’t do enough to encourage healthy eating

Dutch supermarkets don’t do enough to encourage healthy eating

A new study conducted by Questionmark, an independent foundation that aims to encourage healthy eating and living, found that the major supermarkets in the Netherlands aren’t doing enough to encourage shoppers to buy healthy products. 

The Health Super-list 2020

The Health Super-list 2020 (Superlijst gezondheid 2020) is part of a two-year-long study into the eight main supermarkets in the Netherlands: 

  • Albert Heijn 
  • Jumbo
  • Lidl
  • Aldi
  • Dirk 
  • Ekoplaza
  • Plus
  • Coop

Questionmark examined how supermarkets help people to maintain a healthy diet through a combination of their product range, their special offers, their store design/layout, and their company objectives. 

Dutch supermarkets don’t encourage or support a healthy diet

The central question Questionmark was asking was: to what extent does a supermarket, as an environment for daily food choices, stimulate a healthy diet. The findings of the study can be surmised in four main points. 

Supermarket displays don’t highlight healthy products

While most supermarkets have an official policy outlining an intention to promote healthy food items over their unhealthy counterparts, however when it comes to their actual displays, few adhere to their own policy. For example, all supermarkets examined - apart from Dirk - have mini-displays at the till which tempt shoppers with unhealthy products such as sweets and chocolate. Aldi was found to be the only supermarket that used child-friendly marketing for healthy products. 

Advertising and special offers favour unhealthy products

The study found that, on average, 82 percent of the products in the advertising leaflets distributed by supermarkets are unhealthy. In this category, Ekoplaza and Lidl came out top, with the former occasionally issuing alcohol-free leaflets, and the latter offering no deals on sugary drinks popular with children.

Unclear health objectives

Dutch supermarkets are all working on agreements set out in the National Prevention Agreement - an agreement set up by the government and aimed at improving the health of the population of the Netherlands. However, the study found that no supermarkets offer clear outlines on what their objectives are when it comes to promoting healthy products.

Dutch supermarkets offer similar product ranges

Significantly, the study also noted that the range of healthy and unhealthy items available in all Dutch supermarkets is fairly similar. Even discluding overtly unhealthy food items (i.e. chocolate, sweets, and crisps), an average of 59 percent of products on offer are considered unhealthy. 

The healthiest supermarket in the Netherlands?

The supermarket that came out on top was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Ekoplaza. The supermarket chain has established itself as a healthier and more sustainable alternative to other mainstream chains. 

Lidl, Dirk, and Coop also performed well. Aldi and Albert Heijn secured seventh and eighth place respectively.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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