Monitoring the price of foods and beverages in Australia

Years funded:

An unhealthy diet is the leading risk factor for the global burden of disease, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. 

Price is a major driver of consumer food purchase. However, there is no regular, reliable and comprehensive monitoring of the price of food and beverages sold in major supermarkets in Australia (where >60% of food spending occurs). 

This lack of monitoring limits robust analyses of the relative price of healthy and unhealthy foods and how this changes over time in response to external influences – essential to inform health and fiscal policies. 

Dr Kathryn Backholer has previously demonstrated that collecting the price of foods and beverages online is valid and semiautomated data extraction from supermarkets’ online stores is possible. 

This study aims to extend the preliminary work to develop the first fully automated food and beverage price monitoring system for all products sold online from the two major Australian supermarkets. 

The data will be linked to an existing dataset with information on the nutritional composition (e.g. fat, sugar, salt content) and Health Star Rating (presence on package and rating) for over 40,000 products available in Australian supermarkets. 

The dataset will be pilot tested by an analysis of the association between price and product healthfulness for three product categories known to influence diet quality: breakfast cereals, juices, and cereal bars. 

This will be first and most comprehensive database of its kind in Australia and internationally.

Researcher Profile

Dr Kathryn Backholer

Institute: Deakin University
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