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Philipsborn, Peter von; Stratil, Jan Marcel; Heise, Thomas Leonhard; Landgraf, Rüdiger; Hauner, Hans; Rehfuess, Eva Annette (2018): Voluntary industry initiatives to promote healthy diets: a case study on a major European food retailer. In: Public health nutrition: pp. 1-8


OBJECTIVE To analyse the scope and content of the nutrition pledge announced by Lidl. DESIGN We applied the approach recommended by the private-sector module of the INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity Research, Monitoring and Action Support) food environment monitoring framework and qualitative content analysis to Lidl's nutrition pledge. SETTING Global. SUBJECTS The nutrition pledge of Lidl, Europe's largest food retailer. RESULTS Lidl pledges to reduce the average sales-weighted content of added sugar and added salt in its own-brand products by 20 % until 2025, using 2015 as a baseline, starting in Germany. Moreover, it vows to reduce the saturated and trans-fatty acid contents of its own-brand products, without specifying targets or timelines. To achieve these targets, it pledges to apply a number of approaches, including reformulation, promotion of healthier products, reduction of package and portion sizes, and provision of nutrition information and education. Strengths of Lidl's pledge are its extensive scope, the quantification of some targets, and its partially evidence-based approach to the selection of targets and interventions. Key limitations include the vagueness of many targets, a lack of transparency and the absence of independent monitoring and evaluation. CONCLUSIONS Lidl's pledge, while commendable for its scope, does not meet current best practice guidelines. Given their current limitations, industry initiatives of this kind are likely to fall short of what is needed to improve population-level nutrition.