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Netherlands: Opting for health is easier at Lidl

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

'Superlijst Gezond' is the first ranking executed in the Netherlands that compares, what Dutch grocery supermarkets are doing to help their shoppers choose healthy food and drinks. The research shows that there are large differences between the grocery supermarket chains, regardless of their formula or market share. Discounter Lidl, Soft discounter Dirk, Coop and Ekoplaza lead the way; market leader Albert Heijn, EDLP supermarket Jumbo, Discounter Aldi and Plus are not so far.

The general picture is that grocery supermarkets do not discourage unhealthy choices enough:

  • on average 82% of the offers in advertising brochures are unhealthy;

  • candy and chocolate are there for the taking at almost all checkouts;

  • supermarkets have not set themselves a clear goal of selling less unhealthy products.

The report also indicates what is going well at grocery supermarkets. There is, for example, discounter Lidl that no longer offers unhealthy food at the checkouts and discounter Aldi that uses Disney characters to make 'Eat well plate' more products attractive to children. In general, it appears that every supermarket could learn something from others.

These conclusions emerge from the study published that was initiated and carried out by the research foundation Questionmark, in collaboration with the Diabetes Fund, Heart Foundation, Maag Liver Darm Foundation and Kidney Foundation, united in the Alliance Nutrition for the Healthy Generation.

Grocers have a major influence on diet

After smoking, an unhealthy diet is currently the second most preventable cause of death and healthy years of life lost. Questionmark and the Nutrition Alliance for the Healthy Generation want healthy nutrition to become the norm.

Charlotte Linnebank, Director of Questionmark: “It is crucial that people are better helped to eat healthily. 70% of our daily food comes from the grocery supermarket, so they have a major influence on the choices people make. They can use that influence to help customers eat healthily.

Supermarkets do not keep their agreements

In the Prevention Agreement on Overweight (agreed in 2018), supermarkets made commitments on the 'Eat well plate', but 'Superlijst Gezond' shows that supermarkets do too little to get their customers to eat more healthily. Real pain points, such as children's marketing of unhealthy products, are not vigorously addressed. In some product groups, for example for rice and pasta, few healthy variants can be found regardless of the supermarket.

Carolien Martens, spokeswoman on behalf of the Alliance: “In order to be able to make annual adjustments and possibly take additional measures, we lay great value to monitoring based on measurable data and related goals. We see the 'Superlijst gezond' as a baseline measurement that makes it clear that there are enormous opportunities for every grocer to actually become a healthy supermarket. ”

The Alliance is calling on all grocers to take more action and keep their promises. Martens: "There is a great opportunity for the entire sector to make a greater contribution to food according to the 'Eat well plate' in the short term, so that a healthy generation of children and young people can grow up in a society in which healthy food is actually the norm."


A ranking of supermarkets has been compiled on the basis of the research findings and a predetermined weighting. The ranking shows which supermarkets are among the forerunners, middle and laggards in the extent to which they help their customers choose healthy.

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