Supermarkets respond to calls to act on nation's obesity problem

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Australia's supermarkets have responded calls for them to take more responsibility for obesity prevention.

COLES

Coles is committed to providing our customers with fresh, healthy, Australian-grown food, with 100% of our fresh beef, pork, lamb and chicken sourced from Australian farms and 96% of our fresh produce grown in Australia.

In 2014 we introduced the Health Star rating system to Coles brand products to help customers choose healthier options, and we now have more than 1550 products carrying Health Star ratings.

In addition, all Coles brand products have been made without artificial flavours or colouring since 2012.

As a member of the Food and Health Dialogue round table, Coles worked with food industry stakeholders to reduce the levels of salt in foods such as breads, cereals and cheese, and as part of the Healthy Food Partnership we are working with food manufacturers to formulate new, lower nutrition targets for sugar and saturated fat.

Coles is also committed to providing fresh and nutritious meals to those in need - since 2011, Coles has donated more than 25 million kilograms of food, most of it fresh, to food charities via SecondBite, equivalent to more than 50 million meals.

We note that the report does not take account of the important role of exercise in a healthy lifestyle.

Coles in September announced a three-year partnership with Athletics Australia and Little Athletics, and donated more than 2 million bananas to Little Athletics clubs across Australia.

In addition, thousands of Australian schools have signed up to our popular Sports for Schools program, which has supplied over $20 million worth of sports gear to over 7,500 schools across Australia.

IGA

Promoting nutrition and healthy eating is important to Metcash and our network of IGA independent retailers.  We continue to work with IGA retailers to increase their range of fresh and healthy food options, and good progress is being made in this area.

We have also implemented a number of programs designed to increase awareness and promote the importance of healthy eating. 

While the study correctly acknowledges our “Eat Well @ IGA” initiative designed to improve the healthiness of customer purchases, it appears to have overlooked other important initiatives such as the “IGA Family Program” where IGA stores provide members of their local communities with tools to promote healthy lifestyles. 

This includes providing healthy and affordable recipes, fact sheets and activities to teach children about the origins of food.  This program has been in operation for over a year and already has more than 18,000 families participating.  The study also appears to have overlooked IGA’s partnership with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation which is focused on helping children to form healthy food habits for life.
 
In relation to nutrition labelling, all Metcash’s Private Label food products contain “Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) Health Tabs” that disclose the nutrition intake of the product.  We believe this labelling is more beneficial for shoppers than the “Health Star Rating” due to the increased nutritional information it provides.  While adoption of the RDI-Health Tabs or the Health Star Rating is on a voluntary basis, it is disappointing that those associated with this particular study have not rewarded our decision to adopt greater disclosure on nutrition.”   

It is also important to note that the product range of IGA stores are tailored by each independent retailer to service their local community.     

ALDI

We welcome The Deakin University report – ‘Inside Our Supermarkets’ – as a positive step in focusing attention on this important national issue. As a leading retailer, we take our responsibility to provide healthy food options, and the promotion thereof, as a critical pillar of our corporate responsibility.

However, we are concerned that the findings of the ‘Inside Our Supermarkets’ report do not adequately represent the full range of policies and processes ALDI Australia has in place to ensure our customers can make healthy choices.

Upon reading the published report, we have written to Deakin University to express our dissatisfaction with their process and to dispute alleged claims. In this letter, we have outlined an extensive range of activities that we have in place. Below, we have summarised some of the programs, practices and processes we have to support the placement and promotion of healthy food options.

We also believe that the findings are not representative of the experience that our customers would have in our stores, which does not appear to have been a consideration when conducting the research. Had the research involved in-store findings, rather than desk based web research, we feel that it would be clearly evident that there is a strong and consistent strategy of not only meeting nationally recognised standards for health, but also exceeding them.

We also consider our health and nutrition strategy to be meeting or exceeding customer expectations, considering the regular feedback provided to us via frequent customer research.

WOOLWORTHS

Woolworths has today reaffirmed its commitment to helping customers choose a healthier basket following the release of Deakin University’s Health Ratings for Supermarkets Report.

The Report assessed all Australian supermarkets policies and commitments towards health and nutrition and
ranked Woolworths as the highest performer in the group. The Report also called on Australian retailers to do
more to encourage healthy eating.

Claire Peters, Managing Director, Woolworths Supermarkets said; “At Woolworths, we understand that health is
important to our customers and we want to help make it easier for them to make healthier choices.

“We are pleased to see key initiatives, like our support for the Federal Government’s Health Star Ratings and our Free Fruit for Kids program, which has given out over 18 million pieces of fruit in the last year alone, being recognised in the Deakin University Report.

“While the Report highlights some of the progress we have made, we do acknowledge there is more we 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.”

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