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Most Kiwis use Health Star Rating system

Hibiscus Coast App

Staff Reporter

07 June 2024, 8:36 PM

Most Kiwis use Health Star Rating system83% use HSR for first-time purchases.

Most New Zealanders 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.

The Consumer Food Safety Insights Survey found that 83% of respondents use HSR when buying packaged food or drink for the first time.

Of these, 61% reported using the front-of-pack labelling system at least half of the time, while 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 Vincent Arbuckle, deputy director-general of New Zealand Food Safety. "And we're confident consumers will use it more often as more products display it."

Arbuckle emphasised that the survey sends a clear message to the food industry about the consumer demand for HSR, suggesting that food producers who adopt the system will benefit as well.

The HSR system, used in both New Zealand and Australia, allows consumers to compare the nutritional value of similar packaged foods.

Foods earn more stars if they are lower in energy, saturated fat, sugar, or salt, and higher in healthy nutrients such as protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, or legumes.

However, the rating is not meant for comparing 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," Arbuckle said.

The survey also revealed that 80% of respondents 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 noted.

Currently, the HSR system is voluntary.

However, if the uptake by manufacturers does not reach 70% by November next year, the Australian and New Zealand governments will consider making it mandatory.

Arbuckle encouraged consumers to request HSR on their preferred products if it is not already present.

"Let's work together to hit that voluntary target and make it easier for busy Kiwis to make healthier food choices in a hurry," he urged.

The Consumer Food Safety Insights Survey collected data from 1,602 New Zealand consumers, ensuring a diverse representation by including a quarter of respondents who were Māori and another quarter who were Pasifika.

The survey also highlighted that 81% of respondents feel confident that food produced in New Zealand is safe to eat, and 77% believe they can access healthy food options.

However, food prices remain the top concern for 77% of Kiwis, followed by concerns about food poisoning.