Supermarket Research Project
The Parents' Jury commissioned the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, at Cancer Council Victoria, to conduct a research survey into the placement of confectionery and snack foods at supermarket checkouts in Melbourne. Twenty-four supermarkets were randomly selected to participate in the survey, and a field worker was sent to each one to conduct the research. The field worker recorded the type of food items displayed at each check-out, the height of placement and the marketing strategies used to promote the items. Findings were recorded in an observational record sheet and corroboration photographs taken.
The results of the survey were compiled into a report and presented to The Parents' Jury in January 2005. Key findings from the report were published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia (issue 2006:17). Read the article here (PDF 120KB).
The Parents' Jury sent a copy of the supermarket survey to the CEOs of the leading supermarket chains and called for a ban on the sale of confectionery and unhealthy snack foods at 50 per cent of checkout counters. Meetings were set up with representatives from Coles/BiLo, Ritchies and Foodworks supermarkets to discuss the issues. The concerns of the members of The Parents' Jury were expressed and discussions took place regarding possible alternatives. The meetings were positive and convivial although none of the supermarkets would commit to any long term change. Coles has instigated trial confectionery-free checkouts in some supermarkets and are monitoring their success through store manager and customer feedback.
In January 2006 The Parents' Jury polled members asking about their preference for shopping at a supermarket that offered confectionery-free checkouts:
"Would you change from shopping at your usual supermarket if a rival supermarket had 50 per cent confectionery-free checkout aisles?"
- 72 per cent of parents who responded to the survey question would consider changing supermarkets.
- 28 per cent of parents who responded to the survey question would not consider changing supermarkets.
Factors cited as important in deciding whether to change supermarkets were the convenience of the location, and the quality and range of products offered by the alternative supermarket.
What are the alternatives?
Supermarkets claim that the profit they make from selling confectionery and snack foods at the checkout is a good enough reason to continue with this unhealthy practice. The Parents' Jury suggests that it is time for supermarkets to become more socially responsible and to consider the wellbeing of the parents and children who make up a large proportion of their customer base. There are numerous alternative products that the supermarkets could consider displaying at the checkouts that do not compromise the health of our children. We have come up with the following list. If you would like to add a suggestion please contact us
- Fresh fruit
- Bottled water
- Puzzle books
- Greeting cards
- Gift wrap
- Small stationery items
- DVDs, CDs
- Small computer items
- Plastic lunch boxes