More than a third of products on special offer in Irish supermarkets are high in fat, sugar or salt, according to new research.
Some 35pc of food and drink being sold at bargain prices was found to fall into this category.
Worryingly, the balance is even further skewed in convenience stores where it is as high as 56pc, according to the study commissioned by Safefood.
“We know that everybody loves a bargain and shoppers involved in the research told us that they made use of promotional offers to help manage the household budget,” Dr Marian O’Reilly, chief specialist in nutrition at Safefood, said.
“They also said they enjoyed the buzz of a bargain.
“But with more than a third of foods on offer being unhealthy it’s not surprising that last year Kantar data showed that the average household with children spend more on ‘treat’ foods (19pc spend) than on fruit (10pc) and vegetables (7pc).”
The research also showed that shoppers wanted to see fewer promotions on things like confectionery (69pc), biscuits (70pc) and sugary drinks (66pc).
Instead they want more frequent promotion of fruit and vegetables (92pc), fresh meats (80pc) and fish (70pc).
“These results highlight that people really don’t want to be tempted by unhealthy food offers.
“They’d much rather see healthy foods, and particularly fruit and vegetables, on special offer,” added Dr O’Reilly.
The research looked at almost 70,000 food products on special offer, and comprised interviews with retailers and shoppers, accompanied shopping trips and a consumer survey.
It found that price reductions (59pc) and multi-buys (24pc) are the most frequent type of price promotion.
In addition it showed that 85pc of promotional offers were in standard shopping aisles alongside regularly priced products, as opposed to end-of-aisle or special promotional stands.
The research was launched to coincide with Safefood’s new Transform Your Trolley campaign as part of its sponsorship of RTÉ’s ‘Operation Transformation’.
The campaign aims to encourage people to rebalance their food shopping habits, and transform their trolleys into healthier ones.
Supporting the campaign, Aoife Hearne, dietitian for ‘Operation Transformation’, said: “This research reveals just how hard it is for people to make healthier choices when shopping when these unhealthy offers are literally everywhere.
“Tips like making a list, being more aware of these promotions and having a plan for your meals and snacks are all great places to start.”
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