Industries need to look past stars | EDITORIAL

Industries need to look past the stars | EDITORIAL

COMMENT
Opinion
RATED: Representing the frustration some growers feel over fresh fruit juice being rated at just 2.5 stars on the Health Star Rating system.

RATED: Representing the frustration some growers feel over fresh fruit juice being rated at just 2.5 stars on the Health Star Rating system.

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The Health Rating System is meant to help people eat healthy. That's the idea, at least.

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IT seems like such a good idea.

An easy way for consumers to identify which products are healthier than others, by simply glancing at a logo showing how many stars it has.

The Health Star Rating system promised big things when it got off the ground in 2014.

It provides a guide as to what products should be consumed in moderation and which ones are green-lit to consume with gusto.

As Australia pushes to improve its health and dietary habits, surely the Health Star Rating (HSR) system would lead to an automatic increase in fruit vegetable, fruit and nut consumption?

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But no plan is perfect. Just ask the citrus industry.

Citrus Australia has been a strong advocate against the HSR of fresh juice being lowered to just 2.5 star status, which puts it below diet cola in terms of health status.

That seems astounding.

It's the sort of "bizarre fact" that would pop up in an international news headline quiz and make other countries shake their heads.

It's not the first time the HSR system has copped criticism of course.

The olive industry was left with a bitter taste at the end of last year when a review of the system decided to leave extra virgin olive oil ranked the same as, or lower in some cases, refined oils such canola oil and sunflower oil, despite EVOO's widely regarded extra health benefits.

In that report, the HSR review committee admitted: "The HSR system cannot and does not take into account all of the different reasons a food may have health benefits."

There are so many differing opinions from both experts and influencers about what people should and shouldn't be eating that it's easy to get lost in the noise of it all.

People are using the system though.

According to a Choice survey last year, three quarters (75 per cent) of those that have used HSRs trust the system quite a lot or a great deal.

If it's fresh, tasty, visually appealing and grown in Australian, that's already a lot of boxes ticked for most consumers.

The same survey found more than three out of every five (62pc) respondents have used HSRs to influence their choice of food, while one in four (25pc) have chosen a product with a HSR displayed on pack versus those that don't have a HSR on pack.

It's like an authoritative tick of approval, permission to consume something if there was a lingering doubt.

The thing to keep in mind though is that while brains do the processing, often it's the taste buds that do the buying.

Perhaps horticulture industries faced with roadblocks in terms of the HSR system need to rise above it by finding new or different ways to promote the healthiness of the product.

If it's fresh, tasty, visually appealing and grown in Australian, that's already a lot of boxes ticked for most consumers.

Maybe the focus shouldn't be on reaching for the stars but connecting with the people on the ground.

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