Business news


Posted By:
Irish Football Association

30th May 2022

  • Northern Ireland senior team men’s manager Ian Baraclough launches first of its kind partnership – uniting M&S Food, its Eat Well seal of approval, and the Irish FA in a bid to help families make healthier food choices 
  • The ‘Eat Well, Play Well’ campaign will link the eating habits of much-loved footballing heroes to how they play, promoting positive healthy eating messages for kids in a way that’s engaging, relatable and drives change
  • Campaign will be seen across 22 stores in Northern Ireland 
  • Eat Well makes it simple to make healthy choices that are always delicious – look out for the Eat Well flower on products in your local store 
  • That’s not all – the UK’s favourite in-store Supermarket* also announces partnerships with the football associations of England, Scotland and Wales across men’s, women’s, youth and disability teams.
  • New CEO Stuart Machin writes to six million customers to reinforce the retailer’s health mission

M&S Food announced it is partnering with the Irish FA and its Football Teams to use the power of football to help families make healthier eating choices as part of their ‘Eat Well, Play Well’ campaign.

In a first of its kind, the multi-year-deal sees M&S Food, Irish FA and the Northern Ireland football teams shining a light on what players eat to help inspire families to eat healthier this Summer and beyond. By using the influence of Northern Irish footballing heroes, the partners aim to not only make healthy eating choices easier for families but also show that healthy and balanced doesn’t have to be quinoa and kale – it can actually be a lot more fun and tasty!

This timely partnership comes as health is high on the nation’s agenda, with 53% of Northern Irish people concerned about family health. 40%** share concerns on getting nutritious food into their diets – so this focus on M&S and its Eat Well seal of approval comes just at the right time. Over the last few years M&S Food has invested significantly making its ranges, including Eat Well, even better value, whilst protecting the things its customers love most – its market leading sourcing standards and its delicious, innovative products.

The partnership is packed with initiatives – from in store exclusives where budding sports stars can find out their favourite players’ recipes and eating plans, to unprecedented online insight on players, managers and legends sharing their favourite Eat Well products.

So fans of all ages can now truly eat like their football heroes no matter their age or footballing ability. Whether its pre or post-match, or just a quick snack before heading off to watch their local team play.

Northern Ireland senior team men’s manager Ian Baraclough said: “Nutrition in football has come a long way since I was a player in the late 80s and 90’s; our post-match meal was less sophisticated than it is today!

“Our current players are put on specific programmes to give them the best possible fuel for matches and to help them recover after the game so very different to my day. Our players are such icons in Northern Ireland and I think this partnership with M&S Food and Eat Well will help give the budding footballers of the future a real insight into what their heroes are eating and inspire them to eat and train the very best they can.”

Stuart Machin, CEO of M&S, is equally passionate about the partnership and health, and making healthier choices more accessible, is of utmost importance in the retailer’s strategy going forward. He says: “Today I’ll be writing to all our customers about this partnership and our aim to make a real difference to health and inspire the next generation.

“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.”

Stuart added:

“We have nearly 2000 delicious Eat Well products across our Food Hall, from great quality fruit and vegetables to meals, snack and drinks, all at trusted value.  We’re constantly developing and improving our ranges, to give our customers delicious, healthier choices every day”

Nicola Finlay, Regional Manager Northern Ireland, adds: “Our work with the Irish FA is much more than a sponsorship, we want to help change the health of the nation and the first step is to further increase the number of products with the Eat Well flower and make it easier for customers to spot them. Shoppers in Northern Ireland will be able to pick up specific national recipe cards in store so they can replicate their favourite player meals at home – whether that is breakfast, lunch or dinner. Budding stars can even find out what Eat Well products Northern Ireland players consume at training camps.”

About the partnership:

The partnership extends beyond the Irish FA and has been made across all four of the home nations, England, Scotland and Wales. It builds on M&S’ existing strong food health and freshness credentials and the ambition set in 2007 to reach 50% of all food sales volume under the Eat Well accreditation by the end of 2022.

Customers will see the campaign come to life from July in line with the summer holidays and all stores across the UK will have clear Eat Well identifiers throughout its stores. M&S Food Halls will also launch a purpose driven marketing campaign including free fruit for kids in all stores and Fresh Market Specials on seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Later in the Summer customers will also be encouraged to make healthy choices in store through a huge competition that will reward Eat Well choices with an incredible, once in a lifetime prize.

What is Eat Well?

M&S Foods’ Eat Well health seal of approval makes it easier to be healthy. Every Eat Well product has a health benefit and supports a balanced diet. Look out for the Eat Well flower on 1000s of M&S products. Eat Well means healthy choices are easy AND delicious. The Eat Well flower is only given to products meeting evidence-based nutritional criteria, developed by our nutritionists, in consultation with the British Nutrition Foundation, in line with health eating guidelines.

There are nearly 2000 Eat Well products across the Foodhall, to help you get the variety you need for a balanced diet. And the best bit about Eat Well? Because it’s M&S, you know whatever you choose will taste amazing, too.