Health star rating system often not impacting purchase decisions

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th September 2015

SupermarketDespite the Australian Federal Government introducing its health star rating on front-of-pack labels to help consumers make healthy decisions, new research from Canstar Blue has found that many shoppers are not using the system.


Canstar Blue surveyed a wide-cross section of  3, 000 Australian adult shoppers to find that only 48 per cent of respondents had used or planned to use the system.


Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle said it was disappointing a lot of Australians were not utilising something which could improve their health.


The survey found 95 per cent of respondents agree that consumers should take more responsibility for eating habits rather than relying on the labelling.


Most respondents however still welcomed the system with 60 per cent agreeing it provides helpful knowledge. Many respondents also found the system easy to understand (58 per cent) but 18 – 29 year olds struggled the most to comprehend the system.


When asked, nearly 80 per cent of people agreed with the proposition that all companies should be using the system which is currently voluntary.


“If you’re presented with two like-for-like products it makes good sense to allow the health ratings to become an important factor,” said Canstar Blue’s Megan Doyle.


“However, for families on a tight budget, the price of food will probably dictate which products they put in their shopping basket. A marginal difference in the ratings seems unlikely to change that. The trend from our results is that younger people are going to be the hardest to influence – which is not what the Government would like to hear in its bid to curb Australia’s obesity crisis.”


Still some ‘confusion’


Although many consumers said the system was easy to understand, 68 per cent of respondents stated they were confused when seemingly unhealthy foods received good ratings.


There are now more than 1, 000 foods in Australia displaying a health star rating and these include some well-known brands such as Sanitarium, Nestle, Heinz, Fonterra and Simplot. Not every product from some of these companies carry a health star rating however.


Who are Canstar Blue?


Canstar Blue is a service which evaluates and compares consumer products available for sale in Australia. It is  funded by website advertising, ratings licences and lead commissions.