Susan Hedley – Written evidence (FPO0069)

 

 

private citizen with no paid or voluntary office, and supermarket checkout operator in a traditional market town which is 21 km from one of the UK’s great northern conurbations, and on the boundary between a post-industrial area and a rural area which is so remote in parts that the town serves an area where people live as far away as 58 km, so that I serve customers from a huge range of walks of life.

 

 

Q 15   Are there any additional changes at a national policy level that would help to ensure efforts to improve food insecurity and poor diet, and its impact on public health and the environment, are effectively coordinated, implemented and monitored?

 

1  I think that my 2 RECOMMENDATIONS WHICH FOLLOW IN SECTION 2 WOULD HAVE TO BE IMPLEMENTED AT A NATIONAL POLICY LEVEL, because it would have cost/competitive implications for retailers who deployed it – see section 3.

 

 

2.1 From my submission to Northumberland County Council Health & Wellbeing Survey Summer 2018:

 

“Introduce "HEALTHIER SWAP" ADVICE POINTS IN OR NEAR FOOD OUTLETS if they can be persuaded - many people might be amenable to such help and advice on products at the point of purchase, and retailers might actually be able to take more money because healthier foods tend to be more expensive.”

 

https://www.northumberland.gov.uk/NorthumberlandCountyCouncil/media/Health-and-social-care/Public%20Health/Northumberland-Joint-Health-and-Wellbeing-Strategy-2018-2028.pdf

 

 

2.2.1.1 INTRODUCE A RECEPTACLE AT EACH TILL, including a section for chilled/frozen items, FOR CUSTOMERS TO PUT THINGS ASIDE IF THEY HAVE CHANGED THEIR MIND ABOUT THEM, and possibly put beside it a range of healthier substitutes which they could swap to.

2.2.1.2 If our more assertive customers change their minds they simply put things out of their baskets/trolleys and leave them or even hide them on the nearest surface or shelf even if it is a frozen item in an un-chilled area, or a fresh item in a soap-products area, so creating UNNECESSARY WASTE if these items aren’t spotted promptly.

2.2.1.3  Another common reason for items being abandoned in unsuitable places is that CHILDREN HAVE PICKED THEM UP and their accompanying adults take the first opportunity to hide them to avoid arriving at the till with them.

2.2.1.4  The most assertive customers of all simply hand items over when they get to the till if they have changed their minds about buying them, but I would say that these customers are in an extreme minority, and

MOST CUSTOMERS WHO MIGHT BE HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS JUST GO ON TO PAY FOR WHATEVER THEY HAVE PUT IN THEIR TROLLEYS/BASKETS anyway.

 

2.2.2.1  If there was a recognised receptacle at the till for customers to put back [unhealthy?] things which they had changed their minds about, this would INDICATE TACIT PERMISSION FOR EVEN THE MOST TIMID TO DO SO, and might encourage more to do this.

2.2.2.2  It might be even MORE EFFECTIVE IF THEY SAW PEOPLE AHEAD OF THEM IN THE QUEUE DOING IT e.g. I believe that there was some research about charity donations which found that if people saw the person in front of them giving a donation, then they were more likely to follow suit and give a donation themselves.

 

 

3.1 Though this would help to reduce some food wastage, it would entail CONSIDERABLE COST TO RETAILERS, not only to

BUY AND INSTALL SUITABLE FITTINGS to keep food in safe and good condition if discarded at the till, but CONSIDERABLE EXTRA STAFF COSTS IN ENSURING ENOUGH STAFF TO REGULARLY CHECK AND RESTORE THE DISCARDED FOOD to its rightful place, especially since the AMOUNT OF DISCARDED FOOD WOULD BE LIKELY TO INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY from its current levels

– it is much less efficient to walk around a store restoring baskets of all sorts to their rightful places than it is to go around aisle-by-aisle dropping a multitude of things into a trolley as you pass.

 

3.2  Because of these costs it would probably be necessary to DEVISE A SYSTEM WHERE ALL RETAILERS COULD BE INVOLVED WITHOUT INCURRING COMPETITIVE DISADVANTAGES, possibly using something along the lines of the Impact Assessment for https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/single-use-carrier-bags-extending-and-increasing-the-charge

 

 

Susan Hedley

 

27 September 2019