Source: Radio New Zealand, 19 October 2016
Some of the country's biggest supermarkets are vowing to
cut the sugar, salt and fat in their private label products in a
bid to combat child obesity.
About 85,000 children in New Zealand between two and 14 are
classed as obese, according to official figures.
Retail giants including Countdown, New World, Moore Wilson's and
Pak'nSave have now signed a
pledge to help.
The pledge falls under the government's obesity action plan,
which also targets New Zealand's health, education and transport
Foodstuffs, which owns New World and Pak'nSave, plans to
reformulate its house brands, which include Pams, Budget and Value,
to make them more nutritious.
It said it would cut sugar and salt by 10 percent in total,
across its existing products, and it would also reduce saturated
Its managing director, Steve Anderson, said there were more than
1500 of those products, so it would take until 2018 to make all the
"It does take quite a period of time to change those
formulations of these products, you have to be able to make sure
that they fulfil the customer's needs in terms of taste and how
they use the product."
Of those 1500 products, 40 percent already came under the
government's health star rating system, but Mr Anderson said they
were committed to having all products adopt the system.
The health star rating is a voluntary labelling system designed
to help consumers make healthier food choices.
Countdown, owned by Progressive Enterprises, would also continue
to introduce the rating on its house brand products, of which
nearly 400 already have the label.
Its spokesperson, James Walker, said food retailers had a role
to play in cutting obesity, alongside the government and
"People are becoming increasingly concerned about health and
well-being and so this is also moving in the direction that our
customers want us to go," he said.
Countdown's new measures would also include increasing fruit and
vegetable sales and having at least one confectionary-free
Campaigners want more
Anti-obesity campaigners are welcoming the steps but they say
more is needed.
Robyn Toomath, a spokesperson for health advocacy group Fight
the Obesity Epidemic, said getting supermarkets to help fight a
dangerous condition like obesity was vital.
"Although the fast food industry is responsible for normalising
and promoting what we think of as junk food, most of it is sold in
supermarkets," Dr Toomath said,
But she took issue with supermarkets making just one aisle
Dr Toomath said it would be better to see all sugary food stored
in single aisles, and the healthy food put elsewhere.
That way the sugary aisle could become a sort of no-go zone for
"I'd like to see the clumping together of unhealthy food into
single aisles that can be avoided," she said.
The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council said retailers who had
signed up to this scheme were sending exactly the right
Chief executive Katherine Rich said food literacy centred on
moderation remained one of the best options to tackle obesity and
encourage healthier lifestyles.