14 June 2021
In 2017, Deakin university launched The Deakin Food Charter to promote health and enhance the consumer experience of the campus food environment. In 2018, the Deakin Healthy Vending Policy (based on the Victorian Government Healthy Choices guidelines) transformed the vending experience for customers by changing machine display to no more than 20% ‘red’ drinks (like sugary soft drink), and at least 50% ‘green’ drinks (like sparkling water), with the rest to be made up of ‘amber’ drinks (like iced coffee). Other changes included: introduction of traffic light labels, removal of large ‘red’ drinks, introduction of recycled bottle packaging, and a review of the placement of machines to maximise convenience for consumers.
Deakin Campus Services and members of RE-FRESH teamed up to investigate the change in the healthiness of customer purchases and financial outcomes of the vending policy, in our recently published article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
We found a 121% increase in the volume of ‘green’ drinks sold, a 228% increase in ‘amber’ drinks sold, and a decrease in the proportion of overall drinks sold that were ‘red’. Each purchase was also healthier on average, with 4 teaspoons less sugar per drink sold. News was good for business too, with a doubling of revenue, driven by an increase in sales of healthier alternatives.
The results of the Deakin Healthy Vending Policy are impressive. The holistic approach of the Deakin Food Charter, with its focus on health, consumer experience and sustainability, is likely a key factor in this success. Healthy food retail initiatives need to carefully consider the perspective of the customer and the retailer in their design in order to be acceptable, feasible, and sustainable.
If you would like to get involved in helping to create healthier and more sustainable university food environments, you can contact the Nourish Network Campus Food Environments Action Team.
You can watch an 8-minute presentation given by Dr Miranda Blake to the research conference of the International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA Xchange), Jun 8-10 2021 here, or a brief overview of the policy and its evaluation can be found here.
Miranda Blake, Adrian Cameron, Anna Peeters and Chris Livaditis were researchers on this project. We would like to thank Em Massey, Victoria Hobbs, Chris Jones, Spiro Fatouros and Ella Dimasi for their vision, resourcing and support in the implementation of the Deakin Food Charter.