Kiwi consumers embrace Health Star Rating on food packaging

Tuesday, 11 June, 2024

Kiwi consumers embrace Health Star Rating on food packaging

Most consumers are already using the Health Star Rating (HSR) system to help them choose between packaged foods, according to a survey published by New Zealand Food Safety.

New Zealand Food Safety’s Consumer Food Safety Insights Survey found that 83% of people say they use HSR when buying a packaged food or drink for the first time. Of these, 61% say they use the front-of-pack labelling system at least half of the time and 22% use it occasionally.

“It’s great to see so many Kiwis using our world-class Health Star Rating system to help them make healthier food choices at the supermarket,” said New Zealand Food Safety Deputy Director-General Vincent Arbuckle. “And we’re confident consumers will use it more often as more products display it.

“This is a clear message to the food industry that consumer demand for HSR exists and that food producers who use HSR will benefit too.”

HSR is used in both NZ and Australia to compare the nutritional value of packaged food of the same kind. Foods get more stars if they are lower in energy, saturated fat, sugar or salt and higher in healthy nutrients and ingredients such as protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts or legumes. However, the rating isn’t intended to be used to compare different types of foods.

“People already understand that ice cream is less healthy than apples. But if you want to buy ice cream, the HSR system is there to help you make a healthier choice between the different ice creams.”

The survey also found that 80% of people say they completely or somewhat trust the HSR system.

“This high level of consumer trust is something for manufacturers to consider. Kiwis use HSR, Kiwis trust HSR but, according to the latest uptake survey, only 30% of intended products currently carry HSR in New Zealand,” Arbuckle said.

“Right now, the HSR system is voluntary, but if uptake by manufacturers does not meet a 70% target by November next year, the Australian and New Zealand governments will consider making it mandatory.”

The Consumer Food Safety Insights Survey collected data from 1602 New Zealand consumers.

“A quarter of these respondents were Māori and another quarter Pasifika, ensuring our research really tapped into food safety attitudes, behaviours and practices in a New Zealand context,” Arbuckle said.

Most consumers felt confident that food produced in New Zealand is safe to eat (81%) and that they can access healthy food options (77%).

In terms of which food concerns are top of mind for Kiwi consumers, food prices were number one, with 77% of respondents being concerned about them. The second-highest food concern was food poisoning.

For more information about the consumer insights survey, visit pdf report here.

For more information about the uptake survey conducted last year, visit pdf report here.

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