Investigation into the balance of healthy versus less healthy food promotions among Republic of Ireland food retailers

Sinead Furey, Christopher McLaughlin, Lynsey Hollywood, Una McMahon-Beattie, Amy Burns, Ruth Price, Paul Humphreys, Moira Dean, Monique Raats, Mary McCarthy, Alan Collins, Mimi Tatlow-Golden, Celine Murrin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Purpose: With two in three Irish adults overweight or obese, one in six living in poverty, and the majority spending their money more carefully now than in the past, there is an urgent need to understand the availability of healthy food promotions to help householders manage food budgets. This research aims to determine if a balance between ‘healthy’ and ‘less healthy’ food promotions exists in order to inform the development of strategies to increase consumer accessibility to healthier food products sold on promotional offer. For the first time in Irish context, a research study employs primary research rather than secondary analysis of historical sales data to examine the healthfulness, or otherwise, of promotional evidence. Methods: A quantitative approach utilised eighty (N=80) in-store audits of retail food promotions. Each promotional product was assigned a Food Pyramid category and analysed using SPSS.Results/findings: Analysis indicated 47,100 promotional items from supermarkets/discounters/convenience stores representing a 63% share of the Irish grocery market. The majority (95.6%) of promotional items were collated from supermarkets/discounters. The top three promotional mechanics used were price reduction (56.6%), multi-buys (31.9%), and standalone offers (6.9%). This was consistent among supermarkets/discounters, while rank order shifted for convenience stores: standalone offers (51.3%), multi-buys (27.8%), and price reduction (18.4%). Nutritional analysis disaggregated promotional activity into Food Pyramid categories: food/drinks high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) (36.7%); bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and cereals (14.6%); fruit and vegetables (14.2%); meat, poultry, eggs, beans and nuts (13.3%); milk, cheese and yoghurt (13.1%); other (6.7%); and fats and oils (1.3%). HFSS promotions for food/drinks were greater in convenience stores than supermarkets/discounters (57.7% and 36.8% respectively) while fruits/vegetables (14.5% and 7.6%) and dairy products (13.4% and 6.7%) were more prevalent among supermarkets’/discounters’ promotional activities. Additional nutritional information yielded further beneficial insights into food retail promotional trends. Conclusions: Given the current policy focus on the cost of living and population health emphasising the need for food shopping to represent health and value for money, this study contributes meaningfully to retailers’ future monitoring and evaluation activity around healthy retail food promotional environments in response to national public health policy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherInternational Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Feb 2017
EventInternational Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting - Victoria, Canada
Duration: 22 Feb 2017 → …


ConferenceInternational Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting
Period22/02/17 → …


  • Retail food promotions
  • in-store audit
  • healthy
  • food environments
  • policy


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