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UK Morrisons Faces Investor Pressure Over Unhealthy Food By Reuters

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UK Morrisons Faces Investor Pressure Over Unhealthy Food By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A customer wearing a protective mask at a Morrisons store in St Albans, Britain, on Sept. 10, 2020. REUTERS / Peter Cziborra

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – Morrisons became the latest British supermarket group to be targeted by activist shareholders for the amount of unhealthy food it sells on Thursday.

Responsible investment group ShareAction said that, along with seven institutional investors managing $ 1.1 trillion between them, it had written to Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson ahead of the grocery store’s annual shareholders meeting to ask him to boost sales. of healthier foods and beverages.

Last month, market leader Tesco (OTC 🙂 agreed to increase healthy food options at operations in Europe and Britain to appease ShareAction-coordinated investors who had filed a historic shareholder resolution to force the issue.

ShareAction has also previously targeted Barclays (LON 🙂 and HSBC on the topic of climate change.

Morrison’s investors who signed the letter included NEST, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation, JO Hambro Capital Management and Castlefield Investment Partners.

They noted that Morrisons has a goal of increasing the number of healthier private label products to 65% of all private label products by 2025, but said this did not go far enough.

“While Morrisons has made significant progress in reducing the calorie, salt, and sugar content of its private label products, questions remain about the company’s strategy and overall exposure to mounting regulatory pressure and consumer trends that they support healthier diets, “said Ignacio Vázquez, senior manager at ShareAction, who coordinated the letter.

Investors want Morrisons to disclose the share of total annual food and non-alcoholic beverage sales by volume made up of healthier products, and to publish a long-term goal to significantly increase that share.

They also want Morrisons to update their progress toward goals in their annual reports beginning in 2022.

They noted that of the UK-listed supermarket groups – Tesco, No. 2 Sainsbury’s and No. 4 Morrisons – Morrisons is the only one that has yet to set sales-based health targets.

Morrisons did not immediately comment.

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