SMASH: 40 brands back manifesto to ‘make healthier food better business’

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

New app hopes to make healthy choices more accessible for young people / Pic: GettyImages-ViewApart
New app hopes to make healthy choices more accessible for young people / Pic: GettyImages-ViewApart

Related tags Obesity Healthy food

A new food discovery app is pioneering a manifesto to ‘make healthier food better business’ – and the company has secured the backing of big brands including Unilever and Yo!Sushi.

SMASH is an app targeting 13- to 24-year-olds. Its promise: to help them ‘save money and stay healthy’. It is available free on iOS and Android and includes a 20% discount 'when making better choices at places they buy food and love to eat on the high-street'.

All the products listed on SMASH meet a nutritional framework developed by nutritionist Jenny Rosborough, inspired by Public Health England’s calorie allowance for grocery items through to everyday meals and restaurant occasions as well as setting maximum limits for saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Young people can access discounts through scanning a QR code on the go, downloading online discount codes for food delivered to their door, or downloading and printing coupons ahead of time to use as cash in major supermarkets. 

The app, which launched in the UK last week, has set out a seven-point action plan that has gathered the support of 40 food businesses and campaigners.

The creation of the manifesto was lead by Chris Holmes, SMASH founder and former Director at KFC. He believes the need for change is pressing. With one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school - increasing to one in two by the time they reach 24 years old – the Smash action plan sets out opportunities for the food business to reach young people during these 'crucial teenage years'.

“Industry has to be part of the solution. That’s why we’ve co-created this manifesto, so that we can start to see a shared roadmap towards change,”​ Holmes suggested.

An important enabler supporting young people making healthier choices is access, Holmes observed. “Young people want healthier, more-balanced food but they can’t pick these options if they are out of reach. We need to make it easier for young people to find better food that is just as affordable and desirable to eat as chocolate & chips -and  this is where SMASH helps.

“It’s about inspiring young people to make small healthy changes. With young people eating out or snacking on the go up five times a week, we have over 2.2. billion healthier eating opportunities to inspire every year. Together with our partners, we hope to make foods more accessible, affordable and engaging whilst showing food brands that better food can be better business.”

SMASH app launches / Pic: SMASH

He explained that the manifesto, part of SMASH’s launch, is an important step for the food tech company – but beyond that Holmes hopes that it will bring food brands and campaigners together for the benefit of young people.

“It’s… an important step for us at SMASH to set out how we believe we can all help young people live healthier lives. All too often, food brands are seen as 'good' and 'bad' but this is a fight we can’t win without their support. This manifesto sets out a plan which is absolutely pro-business and which we need in order to radically change the way we sell and promote healthier food items.”

This pro-business approach offers a win-win for a high street that has been buffeted by COVID-19 closures and lockdowns, the founder believes.

“After some of the most difficult trading conditions the high-street has seen in over a generation, we need to offer confidence and support to food brands, encouraging them to be bold and brave in the decisions they make about promoting healthier food.”

For Holmes, the focus has to be on developing a plan that can ‘increase demand for healthier food’.

To bring about significant change, there needs to be collaboration across the whole ecosystem - from Government, to brands, campaigners and influencers to young people themselves – the food executive argued.

The ‘make healthier food better business’ manifesto:

  1. Change the narrative:“We know language matters, let’s change the way we talk about healthier food to make it fun, exciting and appealing.”
  2. Make healthier tasty:“Let’s listen to what young people want and innovate balanced options they can’t resist and make better food delicious.”
  3. Small wins and nudge behaviour:“This change won’t happen overnight, let’s take people on a journey and nudge towards healthier lifestyles to create a wave of change.”
  4. Remove the risk:“Let’s use the power of data and insights to show that healthier and more affordable options can sell in high volumes and be good business.”
  5. The power of marketing:“Let’s use marketing as a force for good, through pricing and promotions which shine a light on and drive trial and discovery of balanced options.”
  6. Drive price with policy:“Let’s open a dialogue with policy makers to explore VAT changes that could level the playing field for balanced food and subsidise opportunities for marketing healthier food.”
  7. Co-operation and collaboration:“This is not an individual effort and we all have a role to play - let’s work together to test, trailblaze and share learning rather than operating in silos.”

The manifesto has been developed through focus group discussions and debate between young people, food brands and industry figures, including young advisors from Jamie Oliver’s Bite Back 2030, and influential leaders such as Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen and Chair of the London Child Obesity Taskforce, and Mahamad Hashi, founder of Brixton Soup Kitchen and Deputy Cabinet Member for Youth at Lambeth Council.

Food brands, campaigners and individuals backing the ‘Let’s Make Healthier Food Better Business’ manifesto: Unilever, Wahaca, Yo! Sushi, Whitworth's, Graze, Charlton Manor Primary, Impact on Urban Health, Bite Back 2030, Ugly Drinks, Tortilla, The Coconut Collaborative, Human Food, The Gut Stuff, Hullabaloo, Rootles, Liobites, Planty, Kate Percy's, Vedge Snacks, Sproud, ChicP, Bepps, Sweetpea Pantry, Stacks of Goodness, Explore Cuisine, Plant Pops, Eatlean, Pep Kitchen, Pikt, Boka Food, 5th Season Fruit, Island Poke, Evolved Snacks, Chika's, Gold Standard Nutrition, Podberry Snacks, ShareFresh, Tastily, Pastaio, Seggiano, Brixton Soup Kitchen, THIS.

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