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Tesco outlines roadmap for Eat Happy project as it extends partnership to Scouting Association

Tesco is set to extend its classroom-based educational project Eat Happy to include a new tie-up with the Scouting Association, which will see the grocer launch a Farm to Fork activity badge for Beavers and Cubs.

The project, which began in January this year, takes primary school children across the UK on ‘trails’ to Tesco suppliers across farms, fisheries and factories to educate them about where food comes from.

Speaking to The Drum, Greg Sage, community director at Tesco revealed that he is expecting 500,000 children to have taken part in a trial by Christmas, and that he views Eat Happyas “a long-term” play for the retailer.

“We started trials around our stores and 150 of our supplier’s fields and farms around the country, so we are expecting 500,000 [children] to have taken part in a trail by Christmas.

“It’s still early days [but] we see this as a real long-term project for Tesco. Helping children to live healthier lives is not something you can do in a year; [and] we see it more as a 20 year commitment than a one year commitment. We want to continue to develop the Farm to Fork trials and we will look at what other activities we can offer as the project continues.”

Recently Tesco introduced online Field Trips using Google+ Hangout to bring farms and factories into the classroom, with presentations from food suppliers around the world, including banana growers in Costa Rica and Italian pasta makers, via live video chats.

Jon Davie, managing director at Zone, the agency behind the Eat Happy site and social media work, told The Drum that brands such as Tesco should leverage their expertise to give something back to local communities.

“Brands and companies should play a more active role in the communities in which they operate, and partnering with schools is just one interesting way of doing that,” he said.

“[The] key thing that brands have is expertise, and the reason the online project for Tesco works so well is that it knows better than anyone where food comes from. They have the relationships and the scale with food suppliers and farmers and manufacturers through their supply chain all over the world.

“So if we do want to teach kids about cooking and about where food comes from, Tesco has got an incredible and unique knowledge set to make that happen as well as the scale to deliver.”

Speaking about the negative connotations that a brand may draw from being associated with schools, Sage said Tesco worked in tandem with primary school teachers to create a format and design that worked for them and didn’t come across as marketing material.

“We’ve been careful when designing the materials,” he stressed. “This is not about getting the Tesco logo into the classroom or marketing to children, this is about providing good quality learning resources to teachers and parents. The Tesco Eat Happy project and the branding within is subtle as part of that.”

Last month Tesco teamed with Mumsnet to promote the project in a deal which will include sponsored discussion threads, display advertising, homepage takeovers and video and recipe content.