A first-of-its-kind study has ranked the nutrition policies of Australia’s biggest supermarkets and found that more could be done to encourage healthy food purchases.
The ‘Inside our Supermarkets’ report by by researchers at Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre graded Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA on six different criteria including corporate strategy, product formulation, nutrition labelling, promotion practices, product availability and affordability, and relationships with external groups.
The best performing outlet was Woolworths with a score of 46 out of 100, followed by Coles with 40, Aldi with 11 and IGA with eight.
Woolworths and Coles were applauded for implementing the Federal Government’s Health Star Rating food labelling system across its own-brand products and initiatives like free fruit for kids, while Aldi was criticised for failing to reduce fats and sugars from its products.
The report has set out three areas that supermarkets to work on in order to encourage their customers to make healthy choices like committing to improving the nutritional value of own-brand products, removing junk food from checkouts and replacing them with healthier options, and cutting back on promotions and price discounts for unhealthy food.
"The vast majority of Australians buy their food at supermarkets, and the way these shops are set up can heavily influence what we buy," the study’s lead author, Gary Sacks, said in a statement.
"Unhealthy diets and obesity are leading contributors to poor health in Australia. Tackling the issue requires a comprehensive societal response, including government policy and wide-scale action from the food industry, which includes our supermarkets."