• Iceland will be the first supermarket to use milk bottles to promote a public service with its ‘Could you get this milk for free?’ campaign, reaching millions of families.
  • The message will be carried on 81 million milk bottles across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Securing full take-up of NHS Healthy Start would lead to tens of millions of pounds worth of additional benefit being administered each year to around 130,000 families on very low incomes.
  • Iceland will also be promoting the NHS Healthy Start scheme with special QR coded delivery vans, which will be seen by thousands of people each week.
  • This follows Iceland’s offer of free veg to families using the NHS Healthy Start scheme during the pandemic and price freeze of hundreds of £1 lines in response to the cost of living crisis.

Iceland will become first UK supermarket to use milk bottles to promote a public service by physically supporting the digital NHS Healthy Start scheme to help ensure no child misses out, reaching millions of breakfast tables across the country.

The NHS Healthy Start scheme helps low income families in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland access free milk, fruit and vegetables, pulses, baby formula and Healthy Start vitamins.

Iceland’s ‘Could you get this milk for free?’ campaign announcement comes as recent NHS data reveals nearly 130,000 of the UK’s most deprived families are missing out on hundreds of pounds a year at a time when cost of living is rising dramatically. The campaign is being supported by with The Food Foundation and been welcomed by the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health Minister Maggie Throup.

A parallel campaign in Scotland for Social Security Scotland’s Best Start Foods will include nine million branded milk bottles.

Due to be on shelf in April this year, just as the NHS Healthy Start scheme switches to a digital card based offer, the special ‘Could you get this milk for free?’ labels will also feature a QR code on larger bottles, taking people directly to the NHS Healthy Start website where they can check their eligibility and apply. Iceland will also be creating special campaign delivery vans which will deliver in areas of low take up across the UK and be seen by a thousands of people each week.

NHS Healthy Start paper vouchers will no longer be issued after March, and beneficiaries of the scheme will use a prepaid card to buy their milk and other healthy foods. Anyone who still gets paper vouchers is encouraged to apply for the prepaid card as soon as possible so that they don’t miss out on payments.

This industry first follows Iceland’s previous year long offer of free veg to families using Healthy Start vouchers during the height of the pandemic and the supermarket’s recent commitment to freeze the price of its £1 ranges to help people struggling with the impact of price inflation.

The scheme also echoes a radical and high-profile campaign launched by Iceland in the 1990s when it became the first UK retailer to publish the photographs of missing children on its milk bottles, in collaboration with the charity, the National Missing Persons Helpline. Between 1997 and 2006, the campaign focused on 130 missing people, of whom over forty were found.

Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland Foods, said: “I am proud that Iceland is working with the Food Foundation, the NHS and the Government to promote the important NHS Healthy Start and Best Start Foods schemes, to increase awareness and takeup. From April this year our ‘Could you get this milk for free?’ campaign will be on every single one of our milk bottles, enabling us to reach millions of homes across the UK with details of the scheme.”

“We understand that many families are facing tougher financial situations than ever as a result of the cost of living crisis and the continued pressing need to help from our interactions with millions of customers each week,. At Iceland we have a long history of supporting our local communities and offering great quality, low cost food and I hope this innovative approach will make a real difference to the thousands who don’t realise they are eligible.”

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: “A healthy diet is essential to support the development of babies and young children and we want to make sure every household, regardless of their income, is able to access nutritious food. The NHS Healthy Start scheme offers financial support to help parents with low incomes purchase healthy foods and milk for their children.

I am really pleased Iceland is helping to promote this important scheme on its milk bottles – a really innovative way of reminding parents to take part.”

Henry Dimbleby, Independent Lead of the National Food Strategy said: “It is fantastic to see Iceland leading the charge with innovative support for such an important scheme.  The evidence shows that supporting families with free milk, fruit and veg can meaningfully improve the diets of children when money is tight at home.”

Zoe McIntyre, Children’s Right2Food Lead, Food Foundation said: “Given the rising cost of food and increased levels of food insecurity across the UK,  it’s really important we are making every effort possible to increase uptake and awareness of Healthy Start for low-income families who struggle to access a healthy diet and could be benefitting from the scheme. Iceland’s Milk Bottle campaign is a really innovative and creative way of helping customers find out about the scheme – we hope this inspires other retailers to be proactive and resourceful in promoting Healthy Start too.”

Iceland also has a dedicated webpage supporting NHS Healthy Start and Best Start and will be promoting the schemes with in store posters, social activity and a newsletter update to all Bonus Card customers.

For more information on NHS Healthy Start visit: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/.

For more information on Best Start Foods visit: https://www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods/

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