A woman pushes a shopping cart as she walks past a Tesco supermarket in Hatfield, Britain. File / Reuters
A group of Tesco shareholders on Tuesday urged Britain's biggest retailer to disclose its targets for the sale of healthy food and drinks to help combat obesity.
A statement from ShareAction, a non-governmental organisation campaigning for responsible and sustainable finance, said it has coordinated the first-ever health-based resolution for an FTSE 100 firm.
A consortium of institutional and retail investors have filed the resolution for the upcoming Tesco annual general meeting amid concern over the growing impact of the deadly coronavirus pandemic on obese people.
"With severely obese people three times more likely to be admitted to intensive care with Covid-19, the pandemic has highlighted the urgency of tackling mounting obesity levels to build a healthier and more resilient society," the NGO said.
"The investors filing the resolution argue that Tesco, as the market leader with 27 percent of Britain's grocery market, plays a central role in shaping the nation's diets and must reduce its reliance on unhealthy products for sales growth.
"They also highlight that Tesco's health performance lags behind some of its peers, while new health regulations and consumer trends pose a risk to the business."
Tesco, which is due to hold its AGM in the middle of the year, has yet to issue a response.
The resolution, which will face a shareholder vote at the event, calls upon Tesco to reveal the proportion of annual sales of healthy food and non-alcoholic drink products — and significantly increase this by 2030.
"As the UK's largest food retailer, Tesco's actions are of systemic importance in tackling obesity," ShareAction senior manager Ignacio Vazquez said in the statement.
"But its prime market position has not yet translated into leadership on this critical issue. We hope that Tesco's board will endorse the resolution and grasp the opportunity to help build a healthier UK post-Covid, while also improving its financial sustainability in the long-term."
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