/ Food & Drink, Health, Shopping

We want healthy multibuys not just multi-pies


It’s been reported that the government wants supermarkets and food makers to put more effort into promoting healthier products. Wouldn’t it be nice if multibuy promotions weren’t just for pizzas, pies and pop?

It’s the great British summer (well, it was the other day), which can only mean one thing. No, not the gentle patter of rain on the window, or the sight of wall-to-wall umbrellas at Wimbledon. I mean the return of the British strawberry.

I’m a great lover of this odd-shaped red berry. There’s nothing quite like wandering the shops taking in that distinctive scent. To me, the strawberry is summer. And with the strawberry comes the plethora of mulitbuys and BOGOFs. Luckily my husband is also a fan, so buying more than one pack at a time is no great hardship, and they don’t have time to go off!

However, I know from reading previous Convos on the subject that many of you are not fans of the supermarket promotion. Having lived on my own and without a decent freezer for many years, multibuys used to make me want to tell supermarkets to BOGOF!

A taste for healthy promotions

The thing that bugs me the most is how hard it is to find healthy foods, beyond just fruit ‘n’ veg, on promotion. And since I don’t live close to a market, I’m at the mercy of the supermarkets and their prices and promotions, which makes it hard to keep down the cost of eating healthily.

This is something Which? research shows others struggle with. In our A Taste for Change report, we found that nine out of 10 of us want to eat more healthily, but struggle to do so, whether due to inconsistent labelling or high prices.

Thankfully the government is working on plans for supermarkets and retailers to develop more responsible promotions that help shoppers opt for healthier foods. And it was today revealed by the Daily Telegraph that this could involve shops being asked to spend more of their marketing budgets promoting healthy food, rather than pushing unhealthy multibuys.

Our own research shows that few retailers have policies balancing healthy and less healthy foods in promotions. This is something we think should change and so it’s right that the government is planning to look at this. Ultimately, the food industry should be doing more to help people make healthier choices through promotions.

How many promotions have you seen for healthy foods in your local supermarket?


I’d rather instead of multi-buys they reduced the price for individual items. If someone wants more than 1 of something they can still buy multiples. Since I find fruit and veg goes off far to quickly I tend to avoid buying the stuff. Last time I bought a coconut ( a couple of weeks ago ) I opened it up 3 days after buying it , (well within the eat before date) and it was off. I’m just glad it wasn’t on a special multi buy.

Multi buy offers should be limited to none perishables (ie. toilet rolls, washing up liquid etc)

jeddentad says:
4 July 2013

I wish, in the name of preventing waste, stores would change (or would be forced to change) their multi-buy policy.

If an item is 2 for £2 I should be able to buy 1 for £1 or 3 for £3.

I was told this was actually talked about politically ages ago but never made it through.

Do the supermarkets think customers are complete fools?.I think they do healthy foods a choice. Baked beans is a shining example why is a Healthier can less sugar&salt more expensive than the standard baked beans.This is tied in with inconsistent labeling i urge all shoppers to just do a quick check to see you are getting what you think you are buying.Ready made Family shortcrust steak pie is great for the busy parents yet only contains 24% or 25% actual meat content.I buy same at the same price same size that contains 36% meat content . Individual pies are poor containing 11%or less yet charging more for less.We must have the worst regulated food industry in the EU.The German public would not put up with such blatant misleading labeling.I recommend even if you only check 1or2 products per big shop you will be surprised you are not getting for what you think you paying for.I despise multibuys is a clever ploy often used to raise prices.

Supermarkets run promotions for their benefit, not yours. So if you don’t like the promotion, don’t buy it and stick to your chosen food – healthy if you like. We shop at M&S where they usually have fruit, salad, vegetables, healthy meals, on offer but only worth buying if you need them and can use or freeze them if they are multibuys. Cheaper meals have less meat content than more expensive ones, but that is not necessarily bad – you don’t need a lot of meat. The packet lists the contents so you can see what you are buying.
Personally I don’t want to see Govt dictating how shops should legitimately trade – they will be advised by the wrong sort of people, probably with a vested interest. Just use your own common sense and judgement. If people choose multibuys then presumably they want them – they are not all fools as has been pointed out.

“If people choose multibuys then presumably they want them…”

Not sure about that. For example, one cucumber for 90p and two for £1. I want one cucumber, preferably for 50p.

I haven’t seen that one, but this all assumes we are incabable of making a choice. If you don’t want a multibuy, don’t buy it. If you only want your one cucumber then don’t buy two and save 10p.

Tesco has this offer periodically. It is just one of the ways they annoy me.

If I buy two I try to give one away.

Jax says:
3 July 2013

I don’t mind the multi buys, I object when buying a multipack or 3 for 2 is more expensive than buying individual items. I’ve had more than one argument with a check out assistant, then customer service, when buying 3 items comes up as a more expensive multi buy instead of 3 individual items! This seems so dishonest.

Malcolm R If you look at government stats there are a lot of single people.I never shop in M&S its too expensive.Yes the packets do list contents but its barely visible just imagine a young mother & two children can she stand their for xxx amount of time trying to find out if she is getting what she thinks is a reasonable buy.You come across as a money no object person. Many have to live within a very tight budget otherwise they would run into financial difficulties.If one is buying a Family steak pie you would expect a reasonable amount of meat in it.Its not the old days where mothers stayed at home&do home cooking most have no choice but to go out to work.It would be so much better if supermarkets abandoned Multi-buys altogether& kept prices at a realistic level for everyone.I do a little at Sainsburys again prices dictate i shop elsewhere a Family steak pie costs £1 more for only 25% meat same size &weight& Beefburgers at£1.75p same as elsewhere costs £1.00.German food has much higher meat content but has too much Fat as in their meat- balls or worsts but the prices are good.Take into account parking at M&S it makes an expensive food shop one has to spend at least £5.00 before they refund it.Clearer labeling is no big ask it should be on front of product at this size you are reading not so tiny it gives you eye- strain or have to use a magnifying glass many times i have been asked please can you read what this says and the lady looks so embarrassed about it.

Now how about a BOGOA – Buy One Give One Away. Then you could be giving your extra one to someone like Fareshare – or a local homeless concern.

BOGOFs I think encourage people to buy more than they need and they will then eat more than they need (which they are probably doing already without the extra). This is a big problem when these offers are on products with short shelf life. People still do not understand labelling. Getting rid of some of the labelling eg Display Until is not enough.

Why oh why do eggs come under Best Before when such care is needed to USE them by that date or a couple of days later when cooked well eg in a cake. Just handling and storing eggs is full of worrying recommendations. Best Before for everything else is just a guidance.

Food is better when it is fresh – let’s not encourage people to store so much fresh food that it is difficult to manage. So much food that they need bigger fridges using more electricity. Have you noticed the labels now which tell you to keep things in the fridge that you’d never consider doing before? This causes confusion. Let’s leave the storage instructions for what is necessary for our health.

We have a growing number of elderly people for whom there are probably lots of things that they’d like in smaller portions. They also need containers that they can take the lids off for when they need to put half a tin of soup or beans into one to refrigerate it. Preferably ones that they can see the contents in and can microwave to heat up in. So many containers don’t meet these simple criteria.

BOGACF: Buy One Get A Container Free?

It would be good to see more price discounts on healthier food, but that is not a priority for our supermarkets and shops.

I don’t approve of multi-buy offers on fresh food. They are unhelpful for the elderly, single people and those who are on a very tight budget. They encourage waste of food, which is a good enough reason on its own to ban their sale.

There are a lot of good points being made here. If only the planners hadn’t allowed the big supermarkets to wipe out the local individual traders we could buy fresh and healthy food more frequently, locally produced as well perhaps. Might get better quality too. Having forced suppliers to put production onto an industrial scale the supermarkets have to flog the vast quantities that are pouring out of the containers. Now we have product deterioration and massive waste at every point in the chain.

I used to enjoy buying meat at the local Butcher. Unfortunately the shop was never open when I came home from work and Saturdays were so busy – both for him and us. Trying to buy meat in the lunch-hour was never a sensible option.

Why not just lower the price of all healthy food? Simple. When it costs more money (and time) to produce healthy meals from scratch, then parents will be tempted to buy the cheaper ‘unhealthy’ foods on promotion.

You never (or very rarely) see special offers on essentials like milk and bread.

To save wasting perishable “Buy One Get One Free” products, the supermarkets should allow their customers to collect the extra “free” product at a later date. Just have a printed voucher, which you can take to the store and collect your “free” item from the “Buy One Get One Free” offer. Simple.

This is not the point of BOGOF offers, is it. The idea is to shift more goods, not give you a good deal (unless you need two, or they can be stored or frozen). Some stores do offer good promotions that do save you money. Milk is already very cheap (ask the dairy farmers) and our shop does do bread products regularly as offers.

Minimising wasted food and helping those who don’t have much money to spare is rather more important, in my opinion.

At one time there was the motto ‘The customer is always right’. I’m sure that this had nothing to do with the price of fresh food, but it’s time to fight the supermarkets, which seem to want to dictate how we spend our money and run our lives.

I’m just back from Tesco, where cucumbers (local if the label is to be believed) are 65p each or two for £1. That’s not as bad as before but still unjustified.

I hope that Which? runs a campaign to stop multiple offers on fresh food. I am perfectly happy with offers on toilet rolls and washing powder. I think it would be well supported.

I don’t need Which to decide what and how I should buy. I am quite capable of making those decisions for myself. If people don’t take up these offers, for all the good reasons given, then they will not be worth running by the supermarkets. However if they continue to be run, then presumably a substantial proportion of customers make use of them Why should we decide that those customers don’t have a right to their choice? We are all free to make our own choices in the ways we run our lives.

I suspect that many of us are Which? members or use this website because we care about consumer rights. Multi-buy offers are a frequent concern. I would like the choice to be able to buy fresh food at the same unit price, irrespective of quantity. I suspect that many other single people and those who are struggling financially would like that choice too.

Browsing the Which? website, I see that Which? is campaigning about the rising cost of food, which is a major concern for may people. One of their points is: “more responsible price promotions so that retailers offer genuine value for money with more straightforward discounts.” Having one item at 40p instead of 50p seems like a straightforward discount. No need for buy one, get one free.

Anyone ever thought “Buy One Get One Free ”products are an admission that the supermarkets are
way overcharging their ought to be price per item?. I maintain its just a supermarket cover up to up the price with out the less observant customer noticing.In other words its a Loophole for scamming
customers without the majority of busy customers noticing til they get to the checkout and discover
this weeks shop for same items cost more than last weeks.

Just don’t buy what you think is a scam – your choice. Have you noticed how Finish dishwasher tablets always seem to be on offer – alongside full-price ones. You do have to keep your wits abnout you. A bit like the perpetual sales and 15% off that some stores seem to offer.

Ok Malcolm R So you have never noticed that 1 item costs e.g. a Tin of spam at £1.20p next 2 weeks its on offer at £2.00 buy one get on free.The following week after the so called BOGOFF has ended its priced at £1.25p an increase of 5p that goes unnoticed by by the busy mum assuming he/she buys the same as each week.That is why i call it a scam because its a devious way of upping prices.Its all designed to rip off the customer and make like for like more difficult that is why i say its a scam or bending trading that hits the least well off singles;seniors;students.Perhaps this does not happen in M&S but if you go ASDA;Tesco;Sainsbury;Morrisions the Big players they all do it.

Or even things like a tube of pringles which shoot up in price, and yet have a special offer on them which actually just brings the price back down to what it was. Prior to the massive price hike

As you see this happening then presumably you don’t take up the “scams”. Most of us, presumably, have many regular items as part of our weekly shop, and get to know the prices, so can make decisions about what is worth buying and what isn’t.

For anyone wanting to see how the price of the products they buy regularly fluctuate on a regular basis, I use mysupermarket dot co dot uk.

Pick you’re chosen retailer, then search for the item(s), there’s a graph of price changes going back several months ( unless the product size as changed in which case its treated as a new product).

It’s quite an eye opener and does help you spot when products will be on offer again. YoYo’ing or what springs to mind.

One word of warning it gets its prices presumably by scrapping the supermarket websites, and many supermarkets websites are priced a day in advance of the stores, as apparently its when the products will be delivered and not when you buy them that counts for the price you pay via the website.

Great site.
You can create a basket of everything you might ever buy in every conceivable size and refer back to it any time you want.
My basket varies between around £470 – £540 between the different supermarkets.

We don’t drink milk and use milk alternatives that are not cheap.
A few weeks ago coconut milk was 3 for a £3 which is when I stock up. There were only 5 on the shelf which I took. At the checkout I asked and got the 2 odd ones for a £1 each. Think it was Sainsbury.
Always worth asking.

Sainsbury.must love you alfa assuming you spend quite a lot of money in their stores.Unfortunately Sainsbury have yet to realize that the UK is no longer a society of big happy families of big spenders
they are losing out big time as their are so many singles;1 parent families;students;single seniors all
have to buy but not interested in getting £15 next shop if they spend £60 in 1 shop on Home delivery .If i was a shareholder of Sainsbury i would be furious for not recognizing how much spending power they are missing of singletons.At the til my last four visits i got no voucher of any kind.Small incentives like £3.00 off your next shop if you spend £20 or more.That tiny incentive is much better than any BOG-OFFS.

Giving you a discount still has to be paid for – so you could argue you are being charged more than necessary in the first place to fund your or others discounts.

I don’t think alfa buys this much – just a way of comparing prices. Unless you have a big family alfa, or a big freezer?

Yep, just a way of comparing prices.
I am not loyal to any store and buy some things at local stores especially meat and veg. But when I run low on things like milk alternatives, tea, coffee, washing detergents/conditioners basically anything that is not cheap and will keep, I check my basket on mysupermarket. I then stock up with anything that is on special offer that we use from the supermarkets.

For once i totally agree with Malcolm R.100%.

Last year we had a Conversation about Asda’s plan to cut down on multi-buy offers:

This decision featured in the news at the time, but I have heard nothing for months. Did Asda keep this up or is it back to the same game as the other supermarkets?

It would be a good publicity for a supermarket (any supermarket) to demonstrate it is listening to its customers. Any supermarket that started promoting more healthy choices in food purchasing without forcing them on us could also gain it respect.

My local Tesco has introduced a clever wheeze to make you buy more fresh fruit than you need. The scales have been raised to above average head height so it is difficult to use them – probably impossible if you are short. Just below this are “loose” cherries, actually in bags containing about 500 gms. If you want less…..not easy to use the scales! I have complained about this to no effect