People are interested in well-being, but the Finnish diet has room for improvement – K Group explores nutritional pitfalls

Well-being has long been one of the most popular food trends and Finns consider comprehensive well-being to be very important. However, the Finnish diet has room for improvement. K Group faces the challenge by making healthier choices easier to make.

The interest in well-being as a food trend has not changed despite the increase in price consciousness. According to K Group's Ruokailmiöt 2023 survey, 72 percent of Finns consider taking care of health and comprehensive well-being to be very important and that it affects their purchasing habits. 14 percent of Finns stated that taking care of their own health does not yet affect their purchasing habits, but that it might do so in the future.

However, the Finnish diet has room for improvement. “Overall, Finns’ energy intake exceeds consumption. According to the FinRavinto survey**, consumption of excess salt and saturated fats, not eating enough vegetables, eating too much red and processed meat, and not getting enough dietary fibre are the largest challenges of the Finnish diet that need to be changed,” states Heli Kuusipalo, lead expert at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

Stores enable choices that support well-being

K Group is committed to improving the Finnish diet and makes healthier food choices as easy as possible through three clear and measurable goals.

“Our goals are ambitious and aim to make tangible changes in the Finnish diet. The goal of having Finns eat half a kilogram of vegetables daily creates the basis for a healthy and climate-friendly diet. In addition, updating the nutritional content of our own brands, such as Pirkka products, aims to improve the Finnish diet almost without it being noticed and without having to change one's favourite products. We are also making healthier food choices easier by adding the Heart Symbol to at least 200 products in our brands,” states Timo Jäske, Kesko’s Sustainability Director for the grocery trade division.

Comparing purchases to the nutrition recommendation levels has been made easy for K food store customers since 2020 with the K-Ruoka app. By using the data-based K-Ostokset service, people can monitor their consumption of vegetables, fish and seafood, red meat, salt, and sugar and compare it with national nutrition recommendation levels. People can also set goals for their own consumption to reduce the amount of salt and sugar while adding the number of vegetables in their diet, for example. The service also provides information on the level of Finnish origin and climate-friendliness of purchases.

K Group’s three tangible health goals

1. Finns eat half a kilogram of vegetables a day
Our goal is that those people who mostly buy groceries from K food stores eat half a kilogram of vegetables a day by 2026, and all Finns by 2030.

Consumers are encouraged to add vegetables to their diet for example with the contents and recipes available in the K-Ruoka service, as well as the materials found in the fruit and vegetable departments of stores, which illustrate how easy it is to meet the nutritional recommendation goal in everyday life.

2. Decreasing the consumption of salt, sugar, and saturated fat in the Finnish diet
The amount of added salt, sugar and saturated fat in Pirkka products is reduced by the end of 2025. The goal of reformulating the nutritional content to a healthier option is to reduce the amount of sugar by 200,000 kilograms, the amount of salt by 50,000 kilograms and the amount of saturated fat by 50,000 kilograms.

The nutritional content of several products has already been updated to be healthier. Compared to the initial levels of 2021, there are almost 30,000 kilograms less sugar (15% of the goal), 2,000 kilograms less salt (4% of the goal) and 2,000 kilograms less saturated fat (4% of the goal) by January 2023.

3. Heart Symbol to ease heart-friendly choices
Food choices that improve Finnish well-being are made easier by adding the Heart Symbol to at least 200 K food store products belonging to K Group's own brands.

The right to use the Heart Symbol has been applied for and granted for 80 Pirkka products already, and the symbol has already been added to almost 20 Pirkka products. The changes will be implemented while renewing the packaging by the end of 2024. Heart Symbols are also being added to recipes in the K-Ruoka service.

* Ruokailmiöt 2023 survey, n= 998. The survey material is representative of the population in terms of place of residence, age and gender. The surveys were carried out by Frankly Partners.

**Ravitsemus Suomessa – FinRavinto 2017 survey

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