Morrisons has been urged to increase its sales of healthy food by a group of shareholders collectively valued at $1.1 trillion.
The investors, which include J O Hambro Capital Management and Castlefield Investment Partners, urged chairman Andrew Higginson to introduce targets for healthy food sales and publish annual progress reports.
The push was coordinated by ShareAction, a responsible investment group which last month forced Tesco to sell more healthy food by galvanising over a hundred shareholders.
The organisation accused Morrisons of “lagging behind” its competitors on health issues.
It noted that the grocer scored 20 per cent on an Access to Nutrition report, ranking below Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, the Co-op, Tesco and Lidl.
Morrisons aims to increase its number of own-brand healthy foods to 65 per cent by 2025 but has not committed to sales-based targets, unlike Big 4 rivals Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
“Investors want to better understand how supermarkets are taking responsibility for their enormous influence on public health,” ShareAction senior manager Ignacio Vazquez said.
“This means targeting greater sales of healthier products – not just the number of products – and applying these targets to all products, not just their own-brand ranges.
While noting Morrisons’ “significant progress” with its own-label products, Vazquez claimed that “questions remain about the company’s strategy and overall exposure to growing regulatory pressure and consumer trends supporting healthier diets.”
“We are committed to helping our customers make healthier choices and we are supportive of measuring performance and setting meaningful targets,” a Morrisons spokesperson told Reuters.
“We already publish the proportion of our own brand products which are classed as healthy and have a commitment to increase this.”
The news comes as the supermarket braces itself for further pressure from investors at its annual meeting later this month.
Chief executive David Potts is expected to face protests after accepting a £1.7 million bonus, despite profits being cut in half over 2020.