A survey by consumer research company Canstar Blue found half of respondents welcomed government’s new nutritional on-pack star rating systems advice — but were unlikely to take its advice.
The front-of-pack labeling provides quick ‘at a glance’ advice to busy shoppers, the more stars a product has the ‘healthier’ it is.
More than 1,000 products sold in Australia now carry the ratings, including Kellogg’s, Sanitarium, Nestle, Heinz, Fonterra, Simplot, Vitality, Mars, Lion, Betta Foods, Monster Health Food Company, Food for Health, Freedom Foods, Vetta, Parker’s Organic, Yummia, Campbell’s, Arnotts and Unilever.
The study of 3,002 adults in August 2015 found:
- Most adults (95 per cent) think people should take more personal responsibility for their eating habits.
- A small majority find the ratings easy to understand (58 per cent) and helpful in understanding what foods are good for them (60 per cent).
- A large majority (78 per cent) agree that all food companies should carry health star ratings.
- Fewer than half (48 per cent) say the ratings have had, or will have, an impact on their purchase decisions.
- Just over two-thirds (68 per cent) find it confusing that some seemingly unhealthy foods carry high ratings and some healthy foods have low ratings.
- Young Australians (aged 18-29) are least likely to find the ratings easy to understand, helpful, and to consider them in their purchase decisions.
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. The system seems to have been met with apathy by some.
“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.”
Despite the government spending an estimated $280,000 on market research into the health star rating system, there appears to still be much confusion around the system. The study by Canstar Blue found
“In the case of the [two star] yoghurt, the message is simply that the product is less healthy compared to other yoghurts, while the four-star rated frozen chips are simply a healthier version of other frozen chips,” said Canstar Blue.