Pester power

Woolies to oust sweets and chocs from checkout lines

Woolworths has announced it is removing sugary temptation from its checkout aisles – following the footsteps of most UK retailers and again setting the retail bar in SA.

This move is part of Woolworths’ Good Food Journey, which the retail giant began more than 10 years ago, reports the Saturday Star.

“Some noteworthy milestones have included the announcement in 1999 that MSG and tartrazine would no longer be used, as well as substantial salt and sugar reductions in many existing foods products,” said Spencer Sonn, member of the Foods Leadership Team.

“As the next step on this journey, we have made the decision to remove all sweets and chocolates from our checkout queues, reflecting our commitment to provide alternatives for children and parents.”

But this bold step has not deterred at least one of Woolworths’ rivals.

A spokesperson for Shoprite Holdings said the retail group was not experiencing resistance to the merchandise displayed at its tills.

“The majority of our till points in supermarkets have individual queues and customers are not exposed over a lengthy period to items they would otherwise not have been interested in, in so-called ‘snake’ queues.”

The spokesperson said merchandising decisions were made with the customer’s needs in mind.

“Apart from some sweets, snacks, health bars and biltong, our supermarkets stock a host of popular items at the tills people can choose to buy. They appreciate that these items are conveniently available for them.

“These include magazines, stationery items, batteries… lip ice and, in some stores, padlocks and toothpicks.”

Woolworths said that in 2007 and 2008 it had removed the equivalent of 20 million teaspoons (about 79 tons) of sugar from its chilled 100 percent juices and nectars, and reduced the sugar content across the yoghurt range by 15 percent.

It had also gradually reduced the salt content in at least a 100 Woolworths-brand products, cutting 35.2 tons. These products included breads, cereals and deli meats – biltong among them – cheese, boerewors, fish, party snacks and some frozen foods.

“I am delighted we are committing to remove sweets and chocolates from our checkout aisles. Customers can trust Woolworths has their best interests at heart,” said Sonn.

“We will engage them through panel discussions and focus groups to find out what alternatives they would like… The roll-out will start with all new… and large-format stores.”