Consumer research by the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) has found food choices for people of all ethnicities are heavily influenced by price and specials. For larger households quantity influences choice as well. After quantity, the next priority is whether the children will eat it, which is closely linked with brand/taste preferences. While many families will try budget brands, taste preferences win over.
Consumers mention health, but for most it is a low priority; with healthy choices seen as a luxury for those with more money to spend. Fear of not liking unknown brands leads to entrenched and habitual shopping choices; something the Health Star Rating consumer campaign seeks to influence.
The research – aimed at measuring of consumers’ understanding and use of Health Star Ratings – has found around four in every ten shoppers recognise Health Stars when prompted. Pacific shoppers showed higher recognition of the star rating (65%).
Around half of all shoppers accurately understand how to use Health Stars with many saying the higher the stars the healthier the product. However, most people did not yet understand Health Stars should be used to compare foods in similar categories. Although when consumers were shown two different products with Health Stars, consumers can easily identify which food is the healthier choice.
“The Health Star Rating labelling is a really important step to help people make healthier food choices,” said Dr Fran McGrath, who is a member of the Health Star Rating Advisory Group. “The food industry is adopting the labelling and also making changes so foods are healthier. This is important progress, but only one part of the jig-saw.”
The Health Star ratings is a voluntary front-of-pack labelling system developed for use in New Zealand and Australia. Health Star ratings are for packaged foods as these are the foods with which consumers have the most difficulty, when making healthier choices. Health stars takes the guess work out of reading labels and aims to help consumers make healthier choices quickly and easily when choosing packaged foods.
For more consumer insights and information generally about the Health Star Rating campaign visit the HPA’s page.