What's happening in supermarkets?
Healthier food choices for the community
The Davoren Park IGA supermarket is used by the local community as the primary destination for shopping, as many people don’t have transport to travel to larger supermarkets.
Historically, the IGA supermarket offered a limited range of fresh fruit and vegetables (mainly potatoes and onions) while the meat offered for sale was of low nutritional quality (generally sausages and mince). The rationale was that the supermarket was supplying what shoppers wanted.
In 2011, the local OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle) team in the City of Playford partnered with the store manager to improve the quality and range of healthy foods offered, with the IGA installing new refrigeration cabinets. OPAL signage and marketing materials were displayed in store, such as recipe cards and food labels indicating healthy choices, as well as promotion of weekly ‘OPAL’ specials (such as baked beans and bottled water).
By providing this community with access to healthy foods choices and information:
- Fruit and vegetable sales increased by 340%
- Quality meat sales rose by 650%.
This dramatic change in purchasing habits demonstrated both the underlying demand for healthy food options and the value of the OPAL program in delivering tangible positive change.
Food and Health Dialogue making common foods healthier for Australians.
The Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue is a joint government-industry public health initiative aimed at addressing poor dietary habits and making healthier food choices easier and more accessible for all Australians.
The primary activity of the Dialogue includes a voluntary program to reduce the salt, sugar, saturated fat and energy, and increase the fibre, wholegrain, fruit and vegetable content of commonly consumed foods. It is also supported by appropriate strategies to standardise and reduce portion sizes and improve consumer awareness of healthier food choices.
Reformulation targets will be set at challenging levels to deliver real benefits to Australian consumers, while still recognising technical and safety constraints.
To date, reformulation targets have been set for bread, breakfast cereal, processed meat, simmer sauce, soup and savoury pie categories, with potato and corn chips, savoury crackers, noodles and condiments soon to follow.
Supermarkets are working with the Food and Health Dialogue
Coles, Woolworths and ALDI are working with the Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue on reformulation of key food product categories.
Salt reduction has begun across the Australian food supply
As a population, Australians consume too much sodium – primarily in the form of salt . More than three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from manufactured and pre-prepared foods.
Eating too much salt has been linked with an increased risk of high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart attack, kidney disease and stroke.
Modelling of work done to date by the Food and Health Dialogue of reformulation in its first four categories (bread, breakfast cereals, processed meats and simmer sauces) shows that around 2,200 tonnes of salt can be removed from the Australian food supply every year.
Furthermore, salt reduction within the bread category will potentially result in a 2-5% reduction in sodium intakes across most age groups at a population level, with greater benefits possible for ‘brand loyal’ consumers who always choose the same brand of bread which has been made with less salt.
Similarly, salt reduction across the ‘ready to eat’ breakfast cereal category will potentially result in up to 1% reduction in sodium intakes for some age groups at a population level, with greater benefits (over a 5% reduction) possible for ‘brand loyal’ consumers who always eat the same brand of high sodium cereal which is then reformulated. Naturally, this is great news!
The Commonwealth Government is supporting the development of an FOPL system to appear on the front of pack food labels. This will provide customers with easy-to-interpret information and guidance about the nutritional profile of food and drink, and each product’s place in the overall diet.
The FOPL system will be voluntary in the first instance.
Government, in collaboration with food industry and public health experts are currently working on the design and implementation plan for FOPL. Progress will be reported to the Forum on Food Regulation in December 2012.