M&S Food is leveraging the ‘power of football’ to encourage families to make healthier meal choices, using a multi-year partnership with the UK’s national teams.
The company will work with the England, Scotland, Welsh and the Northern Ireland football associations, under the campaign banner ‘Eat Well, Play Well’.
The initiative will “shine a light” on football players’ diets and help adults and children alike to make the connection between eating well and performing well.
“By harnessing the influence of the players as role models, we want to encourage children and families to make healthier food choices through choosing Eat Well,” said M&S CEO Stuart Machin.
According to the company, the partnership is “so much more than just kit sponsorship and pitch side advertising” – and is instead “packed with initiatives”.
The programme will include players sharing their eating plans and favourite recipes, free fruit for children and “unprecedented” online insight into players and managers.
Family nutrition is a hot topic at the moment, with M&S Food claiming its Family Matters Survey revealed more than half of Brits are concerned about the health of their loved ones.
Childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate, with many factors contributing to the public health problem. Equally, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis has prompted worry that many lower income families will be priced out of healthy food, instead having to rely on cheaper, less nutritious options.
Machin says M&S Food has almost 2,000 lower cost products under its Eat Well range, which will form the backbone of the campaign.
Gareth Southgate, England Men’s Team Manager, said: “Through our partnership with M&S Food and Eat Well we are aiming to help families across the country make healthier eating choices using the power of football.
“We believe the fuel and recovery habits of all England players play an important role in their development and performance and partnering with M&S Food on joint initiatives will help inspire and influence this across the England Pathway of teams from Men’s, Women’s, Youth and Disability teams”.
Besides lending their time and image to healthy eating campaigns, footballers are increasingly involving themselves in different areas of the food sector.
England and Manchester United player Marcus Rashford’s campaigning on food poverty has raised awareness and millions of pounds for the pervasive problem of childhood food insecurity.
Meanwhile, many of Rashford’s peers have put their money behind innovative companies offering healthier and more environmentally friendly alternatives. England captain Harry Kane has invested in Bio&Me, for example, while Chris Smalling is one of several high-profile supporters of Spanish plant-based meat company Heura.