Which? claimed that between April and June this year, 53% of food and drink products on promotion were less healthy foods compared with 47% healthier foods.
The information collected by data analyst mySupermarket compared 77,165 promotions where nutritional information was available.
More than half (52%) of confectionery was found to be on offer, compared with about a third of fresh fruit and vegetables (30% and 34% respectively).
‘Our research found the opposite’
Which? director of campaigns and policy Alex Neill said: “Everybody has to play their part in the fight against obesity and people want supermarkets to offer more promotions on healthier foods and yet our research found the opposite.
“It’s time for supermarkets to shift the balance of products they include in price promotions and for all retailers to get rid of temptation at the till by taking sweets off the checkout.”
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), however, said that consumers valued choice.
If healthy food and snacks and treats are being discounted in roughly equal measure, it gives them the chance to make choices based on what they need.
It also said the suggestion that consumers bought junk food instead of healthy meals because of the promotional mix was “nonsensical”.
Director of food and sustainability policy Andrew Opie said: “Supermarkets offer great value in all the products they sell and it has never been easier or more affordable to choose a balanced diet.”
The BRC also claimed the report neglected to mention that over 70% of people said they found it easy to make healthy choices.
It challenged the general assertion of the report that people were discouraged from eating healthily because less-healthy options were cheaper.
Food and Drink Federation corporate affairs director Tim Rycroft also commented on the report: ““Supermarket promotions are principally a matter for retailers.”
He told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “However, today’s data from Which? shows a wide range of products can be bought on promotion including a third of fresh fruit and vegetables, helping all consumers access healthy produce.
“The report also shows the difficulties of making sweeping judgements on the basis of single nutrients rather than considering the diet in the round.
“The methodology defining ‘unhealthy’ foods based on being high in one nutrient captures a wide range of foods including smoked salmon, nuts and cheese.”