SALIENT (food System triALs for Impact on Environment, Nutrition and healTh)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Primary Care Health Sciences


We have worked with the public, government officials and the food industry to work out actions to make food better for health and the planet. We chose actions that we hope will reach the whole population and help the poorest most. We have worked up 16 actions that our five partners from retail, catering and community support will make happen. Next we will work with the partners to improve the actions further. We will also work with them to test the impacts of the actions on sales of foods. Here is a summary of the work we propose to do.
We will work with the catering company Compass to make more meat-free options available at mealtimes in workplace canteens. Compass will also change the prices of some foods that are better for health and for the planet. We will test the impacts of these actions on their own and together on food sales in some canteens. We will compare results with canteens where there is no change in the food served.
We have three national retail partners: Co-op, COOK and Sustained. Co-op has developed plans to make more plant-based ready meals, and make these more available in stores. They will also introduce price promotions on fresh fruits and vegetables. We will measure the effect of these actions on sales over time.
COOK makes frozen ready meals and sells them online and in stores. We will work with COOK to test the impacts of labelling foods to show how good they are for the planet, as well as actions to change the availability and placement of these foods. We will test these actions on their own and together in some stores, and compare results with sales in stores where there have been no changes. We will also test the impacts on sales of these actions in COOK's online store. Some customers will see versions of these actions on the COOK website and others will see the usual website.
Sustained is a technology company that has made some software that changes the experience of food shopping in online supermarkets. We will use this software to deliver three actions. Sustained will label foods seen in online supermarkets to show how good they are for the planet. They will reduce the prices of some of these foods. They will also suggest swaps that customers can make to buy foods that are better for the planet. We will test these three actions separately and together to see which lead to the biggest changes in the foods people buy.
Community Shop is a 'social supermarket' with sites around England. Community Shop provides groceries to poorer people much cheaper than in ordinary supermarkets. Only people who are on welfare benefits can use Community Shop. In Community Shop stores we will test actions to promote sales of foods that are better for health. For example, they will place healthier foods where people are more likely to see and chose them, and they will make them cheaper to buy.
In all cases, when we test the actions described above, we will also do work to help us understand why these actions work or do not work as planned. We will check in stores and online to see whether the actions have been taken. We will also ask customers and shopkeepers what they think of the actions, what went well and what did not.
When we have results of all of our tests of the actions, we will use the information on changes in sales of foods to help us to work out what these mean for health, for the planet and for businesses and the economy. When we do this work we will assume that the actions can take place in all similar food stores nationally, so that we can understand how they might affect the whole country. We have developed computer models to help us do this work.
Even though we have found five companies that have agreed to work with us, we will continue to look for more over the next 6 months, so that we can find some different actions to test in different types of food outlet.


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Title Environmental data linkage with foodDB 
Description foodDB is a software that allows for automated collection and processing of data on all food and drink products available in 8 UK online supermarkets on a regular basis. An extract of ~55k foods from this dataset has been linked with estimates of environmental footprint (greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use and water pollution) taken from the HESTIA database. The process involves an algorithm that deconstructs ingredients information into estimates of proportion of food by basic agricultural commodity. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This algorithm will become openly available when an accompanying paper is published (currently under peer review). The linkage of data on multi-ingredient processed foods with environmental footprints has allowed for innovative research on population approaches for encouraging healthy, sustainable diets. 
Title PRIMEtime 
Description PRIMEtime is a longitudinal health model that can estimate the health and health economic impact of changes in diet for the UK 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The PRIMEtime model has been used for numerous policy evaluations in the UK, including evaluations of the Soft Drink Industry Levy, the proposed regulation of advertising of unhealthy food to children, and reformulation of sugar in processed foods. 
Description Co-op - retail partner for evaluations 
Organisation The Co-operative Group Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The SALIENT consortium have co-designed an evaluation of price and promotion interventions delivered in Co-op stores.
Collaborator Contribution The Co-op team have helped design the evaluation protocols and will provide us with sales data for the analysis.
Impact Evaluations to be completed in 2024.
Start Year 2022
Description Guardian Live event (Should we all be vegan?) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk as part of a three person debate about the benefits of plant-based diets to health and the environment. The talk was hosted by the Guardian, and was made freely available soon afterwards. About 180 people attended the event, and we took direct questions from the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2024