INSIDE OUR SUPERMARKETS 2018

Australians buy most of their food from supermarkets. The supermarket environment (including the products available for sale, their prices, and the way they are promoted) has a major impact on what people choose to buy. There are a number of actions that supermarkets can take to support their customers to make healthier food choices, and improve the health of the communities in which they operate.

Inside Our Supermarkets 2018 assessed the four largest Australian supermarkets (Woolworths, Coles, ALDI, IGA) on their policies and commitments related to obesity prevention and nutrition.

Overall findings

Australian supermarkets demonstrated some commitment to addressing health and nutrition issues, but much stronger action is needed across the sector

Areas in which Australian supermarkets have shown good progress:

  1. Corporate strategy: Discussing nutrition and health issues as part of corporate responsibility reporting (3 out of 4 companies)

  2. Product formulation: Reporting on efforts to reduce levels of sodium, sugar and fat in own-brand products (2 out of 4 companies)

  3. Nutrition labelling: Commiting to implement the Australian government’s Health Star Rating system across own-brand products (2 out of 4 companies)

Priority recommendations for the supermarket sector:

 

1| Corporate strategy: Prioritise nutrition and health as part of the overall company strategy, with relevant objectives, targets and appropriate resourcing
2| Product formulation: Set measurable targets and timelines to reduce sugar, sodium, saturated fat and artificially produced trans fat content in own-brand products
3| Nutrition labelling: All companies commit to implement the Australian government’s Health Star Rating system across all own-brand products
4| Promotion practices: Establish a policy on marketing to children designed to reduce the exposure of children and adolescents (up to age 18) to promotion of ‘less healthy’ foods
5| Product availability: Introduce universal healthy checkouts (with no ‘less healthy’ products, such as confectionery and sugar-sweetened beverages, on display near registers) across all stores nationally
6| Product affordability: Limit price promotions (e.g., price discounts and ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ specials) on ‘less healthy’ products, whilst working to improve affordability of healthy foods

Conclusion and implications

 

• While Australian supermarkets have taken some positive steps as part of a societal response to unhealthy diets and obesity, there is a much greater role for them to play

Companies need to elevate the importance of nutrition as part of their overall strategy, and commit to implementing a broad range of actions to improve the healthiness of Australian supermarket environments

Governments need to closely monitor the healthiness of supermarket environments, and consider stronger policy intervention where voluntary company actions are insufficient

©2018 by InsideOurFoodCompanies.