Healthy living and your Co-op. Join the conversation

‘Health and wellbeing’ is the next subject area to go under the member-scope, as I look to get your views on this key policy area for your Co-op.

And I’d like the discussion to be every bit as much about our mental and emotional health, wellbeing and happiness as it is about our physical health.

We all know that exercising, and eating and sleeping well can help to improve our physical health. We’re doing lots in our food stores to reduce fat, sugar and salt in our products and to offer a wide range of delicious, inspiring healthier choices for all customers, including those with special dietary needs. We also ensure our products carry easy-to-understand, traffic light labelling that helps with quick, informed diet choices.

But the vital ingredients of well-being are maybe not quite so well understood.

I like this take on wellbeing, developed by the New Economics Foundation, which emphasises just how important it is to connect with those around us, participate in community life and learn new things. These everyday actions promote good physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, leading to happy lives.

As a community retailer, our stores have a role to play in helping to make some of those connections. And our response goes further still:

  • Our Local Community Fund is helping people to participate in community life by supporting local causes.
  • Our Funeralcare business encourages connections through support groups that provide an opportunity for people to meet and make new friends with others experiencing bereavement.
  • And our Charity Partnership with the British Red Cross is helping people who are experiencing loneliness to re-connect with their communities.

Right now I’m keen to hear what you think about our approach to healthy living, as we take a look at our Co-op policies, so please add a comment below. Here’s a few pointers to get you started:

  • Is this issue important to you? If not, why not?
  • Whose responsibility is your health and wellbeing?
  • What more can the Co-op do to promote healthier, happier lifestyles?
  • Do you see the Co-op as a trusted source of information when it comes to healthy living. If not, why?

I’ll be replying to comments, so please join the conversation!

Paul, Group Policy Director

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. This issue is important to me but I feel that your stores give off the wrong image and contradict what you are trying to set out to do. For instance if you visit my local store, in Woburn Sands, the first thing you see from the street is boxes of confectionary pilled up high or displays of bottles of alcohol on special offer. Could this space be used more effectively in promoting healthy living by displaying more appropriate produce? I understand that these items may be your biggest earners but if you are serious about promoting health and wellbeing you sometimes need to take a hit on your finances in order to encourage your customers to change or moderate their behaviour. I hope this is helpful.


    • You’ve hit the nail on the head there! Ditto with posters, supermarkets (generally) overwhelmingly advertise junk on them. Its great that you measure the proportion of offers on healthy food (32% last two years) but why not seek to raise this? The target has been static at 30% for years. You should be encouraging members to make better choices, not the reverse. This being said the co-op shouldn’t just go down the avenue of trying to make junk food less junk-y. I saw some “no added sugar” milk chocolate in a rival store the other day. That’s stupid. Its an occasional treat, don’t pretend its anything else.


  2. Your individual health is your own responsibility and no-one else can be liable for the decisions you make to either look after yourself or not. I think people in Western/ First World countries have got used to passing the buck and choose to abdicate taking the onus on themselves to account for their own actions and attitudes health wise. You have everything on a plate here, spoon-fed regarding every step forward or backwards. Umbrellas over you, safety nets to catch if you fall, when do you make a mistake and accept the outcome, learn from it and not repeat it again? The supermarket is not there to police your uncontrolled habits. It is up to you to use your will power to avoid the substances that are unhealthy for you and only buy what is good for you. The only reason unhealthy items are available, is because you, the public, have always chosen to buy them so the companies provide them. Stop buying them and the shops will have to stop having them on the shop floor! And lets be honest, if you really have no control over your urges, you will go and find what you are yearning for, no matter where it is displayed! So my belief is, if you want to be healthy, wealthy and wise then you need to make sure you are doing the things that will accomplish those values in your life and not expect the rest of the world to do it for you.


    • Totally agree that we need to be in control of our own destiny and decisions and take responsibility for our own decisions and mistakes. I have done this all my adult life so far. I have been a petite size 8 since I was 20 through exercise and healthy life choices but a company such as the coop cannot claim to be campaigning for health and wellbeing and at the same time store a whole load of junk food for sale. The manufacturers come up with the processed foods and market them very intelligently, convincing the consumer that they desire the product until they are hooked. The consumer, manufacturer and retailer need to take responsibility for this obesity epidemic that is now prevalent in the western world.


  3. Is this issue important to you? If not, why not? The issue is very important to me, more and more people are effected and not only individuals. Health and wellbeing effects everyone and everyone has a responsibility to assist where practical.
    Whose responsibility is your health and wellbeing? My health and wellbeing are my responsibility ultimately you can lead people but everyone makes there own choices, education is the key, give people all information and hopefully they will make the right choices
    What more can the Co-op do to promote healthier, happier lifestyles? The Co-op are already doing a lot to promote healthier, happier lifestyles so continue with the work being carried out especially to reduce salt, sugar, fat and additives in our food.
    Do you see the Co-op as a trusted source of information when it comes to healthy living. If not, why? I do see the Co-op as a trusted source of information when it comes to healthy living as they are transparent and inform the consumer with honest labels all the necessary information available.


  4. The coop is an important convenience store in many towns, villages and communities. The choice and variety of products has grown over the years and your campaign ads are attractive and engaging. I do however think that doughnuts and sweets etc are too close to the exit tills…there are too many offers on junk foods and chocolates for a £1.00 and this detracts from the “responsible” image it wants to portray. A limited amount of treats are fine in a shop but should not be in such prominent places. Yes I agree that everyone is responsible for their own health choices as others have mentioned and that’s fine when you’re an adult and starting to look out for your health and weight but with the level of child obesity still on the rise kids are not making the best choices- this is not the Coop’s fault of course but they could do more to promote healthier choices aimed at children and teens by reducing and placing unhealthy options in less prominent places and reducing the amount available.
    Also, notice boards with community ads could also feature more prominently in stores to advertise community events a little more and get people involved.


  5. Can you lower the salt content of your bacon,i bought the two for four pounds,a great deal,but it was so salty it put me off health wise and taste wise.We are both packs but i felt it was not good for our health.



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