With more than 1,000 products now sold in Australia that carry the Federal Government’s health star ratings system, including private label from Coles and Woolworths, research from Canstar Blue shows that Australians have generally welcomed the extra advice – but most are unlikely to take it.
The front-of-pack labelling system was introduced in response to Australia’s growing obesity crisis, designed to give consumers an easy way to compare similar processed foods and make healthier choices.
The voluntary health star ratings system is used in addition to the mandatory nutrition information panel. But instead of studying the detailed information across two separate products, the idea is that the health star ratings will provide quick and convenient ‘at a glance’ advice to busy shoppers.
Canstar Blue’s survey of 3,002 adults in August 2015 found that the majority of Australians have welcomed the ratings, with 60% agreeing with the statement: “I find the health star ratings helpful in understanding what is and isn’t good for me”.
In addition, 58% said they find the ratings easy to understand and 78% were in agreement that all food companies should introduce health ratings. However, only 48% of respondents said the ratings have had, or will have an impact on their purchase decisions.
Adults aged in their 40s were most likely to be guided by the ratings (52%). The youngest age group surveyed, 18-29-year-olds, were amongst the least likely to let the stars influence what they buy, along with those in their 60s and aged 70 plus (both 45%).
People in the youngest age group were the least likely to find the ratings easy to understand (54%).
Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, said: “We support any system that helps consumers make better decisions, particularly when it comes to their health, so it’s disappointing to find the majority of Australians are not making these ratings a part of their purchase decision.
“However, for families on a tight budget, the price of food will probably dictate the products they put in their shopping basket.”