Looking at supermarket specials over a year showed junk foods are discounted, on average, twice as often as healthy foods.
Australians buy about 2/3rds of their food and drink at the supermarket, and 40% of their foods on special. We know environments dominated by heavily promoted junk foods are a common source of unhealthy diets.
Where unhealthy diets are one of the leading contributors to poor health in Australia, the way supermarkets apply discounts needs to change. We all love a bargain, but we may be paying the real price with our health.
Junk foods attract more specials, and bigger discounts
We found the more stars a food product had, the less often it was on special, and the smaller the discount when it was. Discounts applied to junk foods were, on average, almost twice as large as discounts on healthier options (26% off versus 15% off).
Drink specials in supermarkets over a year found almost half of all drink specials were for sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, and cordials). Within drink categories, twice as many sugar-sweetened beverages were on special compared to specials for milk and water (34% versus 15% of the time).
Does it have to be this way?
If Australia is serious about addressing its obesity crisis, the way junk food is promoted in our supermarkets needs serious review. There’s a real opportunity for both supermarkets and food manufacturers to take the lead in helping to encourage healthier eating.
Imagine what it would be like to shop at a supermarket where healthier food was on special more often, and with bigger discounts. Where customers were enticed by discounted fruit and vegetables instead of half price chips, chocolate and soft drinks.