Australian supermarkets told to increase commitment to health
A Deakin University report is putting the pressure on Australian supermarkets to do more to improve Australian diets, including suggesting they remove sugary treats from the checkouts.
The report, produced by Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre, was the result of a study which scored Australia’s major supermarkets on their health policies and commitments.
The score was based off a number of criteria including whether unhealthy food is advertised to kids and teens, pricing strategies for ‘junk food’ and the formulation of private label food products.
All of Australia’s major supermarkets scored below 50 per cent.
The highest scoring supermarket was Woolworths which scored 46 per cent. Woolworths was followed by Coles which scored 40 per cent.
Aldi received a score of 11 per cent and IGA 8 per cent.
All scoring was based off publicly available information.
The report said the supermarkets have demonstrated good progress when it comes to using the Health Star Rating system, reformulating foods so they are healthier and discussing nutrition and health issues as part of corporate responsibility reporting.
Deakin’s report however said the supermarkets need to play a much bigger role than they already are when it comes to public health and diet. A number of priority recommendations were made including limiting discounting unhealthy food, making healthy food affordable and removing unhealthy foods like chocolates from checkouts.
Soon after the report was released, Woolworths responded by publicly “reaffirming” its commitment to helping its customers make healthy choices.
Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director, Claire Peters said whilst the report recognised some of Woolworths’ health commitments to date, Woolworths acknowledges it is more it can do.
“We are determined to lead the way when it comes to helping our customers make healthier choices, with the initiatives outlined in the report representing only the start of our journey in this area,” Peters said.
Woolworths said in response to consumer demand for healthier foods it is increasing space in its new and renewed stores for fresh produce and dedicating more space for health food aisles.
Aldi told consumer advocacy group CHOICE that the report did not represent its polices and processes in full as it was based off web research and that it believes its health strategy is meeting customer needs
IGA also told CHOICE that the study did not include some of its health programs and that it was penalised for using recommended dietary intake tabs on its private label products which it believes provides more information that Health Star Ratings.