Food manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand have been warned voluntary health rating labels on packaging will be made compulsory if targets are not met.

The so-called Health Star Rating (HSR) system, which rates the nutritional profile of packaged foods on a 0.5 to five scale, was introduced on a voluntary basis in 2014. Manufacturers were given a tiered timeframe to adopt the labels, with the upper threshold of a 70% adoption rate by November 2025.

While manufacturers are not obliged to meet the target by law, Vincent Arbuckle, deputy director-general of government agency New Zealand Food Safety, has indicated the use of the labels could be made compulsory if they don’t increase adoption.

In a statement, Arbuckle, said: “Right now, the HSR system is voluntary, but if uptake by manufacturers does not meet a 70% target by November next year, the Australian and New Zealand governments will consider making it mandatory.

“Let’s work together to hit that voluntary target and make it easier for busy Kiwis to make healthier food choices in a hurry.”

The comment follows the release of the body’s Consumer Food Safety Insights Survey earlier this month, which found just 30% of packaged food and drink products display the HSR label in New Zealand.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

“If you don’t see HSR on your preferred product, talk to the manufacturer about getting it on there”, Arbuckle said.

Last year, a report published by the George Institute for Global Health also found total uptake of HSR in Australia had dropped from 40% in 2019 to 36% in 2023.

The New Zealand Food Safety survey, which assessed data from 1,602 Kiwi consumers, showed that 83% used the star scale label when purchasing packaged food or drink products “for the first time”.

Over 60% said they used HSR “at least half of the time”, while 22% reported using it “occasionally”.

The majority of respondents in the survey also said “they completely or somewhat trust the HSR system”.

Arbuckle added: “This is a clear message to the food industry that consumer demand for HSR exists and that food producers who use HSR will benefit too.”