Safeway results - Health

Indicator 7.1 View criteria

Issue: Corporate commitment to public health

Indicator: Responsibility for and action on food and public health

Safeway scored marks for confirming its commitment to supporting public health policy in all three areas (action on food poverty and health inequalities; commitment to widening access; and nutrition and healthy eating), and for its extensive published policies relating to nutrition and healthy eating, but it does not have policies on food poverty and health inequalities, or access.

Indicator 7.2 View criteria

Issue: Action on food poverty and health inequalities

Indicator: Store location and pricing policy

Safeway scored highly on the question relating to food pricing, indicating that it subsidises the costs of foods categorised as healthy (or as healthier alternatives to standard products, such as low-fat) to encourage healthy eating and bring it within customers’ reach. Only a small proportion of the stores it opened in the year reported, and fewer than half the stores it refurbished, were in areas that matched the overall company demographics in terms of provision for lower income shoppers, suggesting that these areas were not a focus of activity.


Indicator 7.3 View criteria

Issue: Commitment to widening access

Indicator: Access to and within stores

Unfortunately, Safeway lost marks on this question because it was unable to provide data on the means of transport used by its customers when shopping. It does not offer a delivery service. Although it does not at present have a written policy relating to customers with special needs, this is currently under review, and measures intended to ease access for these groups are being trialed in some stores.


Indicator 7.4 View criteria

Issue: Nutrition and healthy eating

Indicator: Extent to which sales support dietary guidelines

Safeway scored highly on all the questions relating to the extent to which sales support dietary guidelines (but see note in the Overall review of this module). It has reduced salt, sugar and fat content in the product lines specified, and provides full nutritional labelling. Although its IT systems do not at present allow it to provide data to customers that would help them to analyse their shopping nutritionally on the basis of their till receipts, for example by indicating the total fat or salt purchased, it indicated that it does have a dietary analysis tool that can be used when requested by customers. Safeway does not use the Department of Health Five a day logo, though it does run its own scheme to promote fruit and vegetable consumption.

Overall commentary and examples of good practice

Safeway’s showing in this module is probably an unfair reflection of its performance relative to other supermarkets. It lost marks by being unable to supply data for some questions. The supplementary materials supplied showed that the company had a good level of awareness of the impact its policies and actions can have on public health, and that it has policies which support efforts to address the problem of diet-related illness. In general, the company scored well on questions relating to the range of healthy or “healthier” foods it supplies, and its pricing policies, which help to keep healthy options within customers’ reach. Surprisingly, given that around half its customers come from the poorer sections of society (C2DEs), Safeway scored less well on questions relating to access, an area in which the company has no published policies. Safeway has had an active nutrition department, which has been proactive in devising ways to provide dietary advice to customers on an individual basis, helping to bridge the gap between the theory of good nutrition and the practice of food shopping and menu planning.

Examples of good practice

Areas for improvement


Supermarket comments

“We continue to innovate in communicating key health messages to both our employees and our customers. We are implementing a new communication plan in January 2004 despite the proposed merger and we continue to invest in the development of new products, not only in our ‘healthier’ ranges but also in core areas where we can achieve ‘better than existing’ nutritional values’.”


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