Over 32,000 packaged food items were analysed as part of the FoodSwitch: The State of the Food Supply report, with results showing almost half of all processed foods on supermarket shelves are discretionary foods – foods that are not a necessary part of a person’s diet.
Supermarket Woolworths is the healthiest major supermarket in Australia when it comes to their own label ranges, with an average Health Star Rating of 3.2. Major competitor Coles was close behind in second place, followed by Aldi and IGA. Only four in 10 of IGA’s home brand products were considered healthy (a Health Star Rating of 3.5 or above).
A2 Milk, Sanitarium and Nudie Foods were found to be the healthiest food brands, whilst Bundaberg Drinks and Mondelez came in at the bottom of the list.
Report co-author associate professor Gary Sacks, of the Global Obesity Centre at Deakin University said the report shows clear opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to make a significant impact on the healthiness of the nation’s food supply.
“Food retailers have a huge number of products and the power to significantly impact on the healthiness of the food supply, as they are the gatekeepers to the majority of food and beverage purchases made in Australia,” he said, with the report recommending mandatory Health Star Ratings on all packaged foods across Australia, as well as encouraging retailers to set minimum requirements for the healthiness of food they stock.
Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute for Global Health believes urgent government action is required to help manufacturers and retailers to make foods healthier.
“Getting healthier foods on the shelves will be key to curbing the epidemic of obesity and diet-related ill health blighting Australia,” he said. “Every day of inaction is putting the health of millions of Australians at risk.”