Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 August 2020
The current study aimed to investigate availability and placement of healthy and discretionary (less healthy) food in supermarkets in Victoria, Australia, and examine variation by supermarket chain and area-level socio-economic disadvantage.
Cross-sectional supermarket audit. Measures included: (i) proportion of shelf space (in square metres) allocated to selected healthy and discretionary food and beverages; (ii) proportion of end-of-aisle, checkout and island bin displays containing discretionary food and beverages and (iii) proportion of space within end-of-aisle, checkout and island bin displays devoted to discretionary food and beverages.
Metropolitan areas of Melbourne and Geelong, Australia. Assessment: June–July 2019.
Random sample of 104 stores, with equal numbers from each supermarket group (Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Independent stores) within strata of area-level socio-economic position.
Proportion of shelf space devoted to selected discretionary foods was greater for Independent stores (72·7 %) compared with Woolworths (65·7 %), Coles (64·8 %) and Aldi (63·2 %) (all P < 0·001). Proportion of shelf space devoted to selected discretionary food for all Coles, Woolworths and Aldi stores was 9·7 % higher in the most compared with the least disadvantaged areas (P = 0·002). Across all stores, 90 % of staff-assisted checkout displays and 50 % of end-of-aisle displays included discretionary food. Aldi was less likely to feature discretionary food in end-of-aisle and checkout displays compared with other supermarket groups.
Extensive marketing of discretionary food in all Australian supermarket chains was observed, which is likely to strongly influence purchasing patterns and population diets. Findings should be used to inform private and public sector policies to reduce marketing of discretionary food in supermarkets.