Private label products lag brands when it comes to health: Heart Foundation

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 16th April 2009

Dr Lyn Roberts, Chief Executive of the Heart Foundation, has urged supermarkets to improve the nutritional profile of their private label goods as research indicates they often lag their branded counterparts.

It is the second time in a month that the health of supermarket products has been criticised, with consumer group Choice last month questioning the ingredients in supermarket cakes.

Dr Roberts noted that the stalling economy had driven more people to private label, but possibly to the detriment of their health. “In the current economic climate, consumers are looking for ways to cut spending,” she said in her address to the National Press Club yesterday. “A survey by the Buchanan Group in December found that more than 60% of respondents claimed to have been switching to cheaper supermarket brands. But for the consumer, the savings at the check out may be costly for their health.”

The Heart Foundation is currently carrying out an analysis of the nutritional profile of private label goods with national brands.

“So far, almost 5,000 packaged food products have been analysed across 28 food categories,” Dr Roberts advised. “The results will be published later this year. However, in general, private label products contain significantly more sodium, saturated, trans fats and are more energy dense than branded products. We would like supermarkets to ensure that private label products are no less healthy than the more expensive foods.”