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The Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI): New Zealand

The Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) collated by INFORMAS consists of two components (Policies and Infrastructure Support), 13 domains and 47 good practice indicators.

A national expert panel aims to rate the level of implementation of policies on food environments by the Government against international best practice, and then, based on the implementation gaps, propose, and prioritize key actions for implementation by the government. Professor Boyd Swinburn from the University of Auckland coordinates INFORMAS globally. Food-EPI results have been reported for 2020 for New Zealand (the latest Australian report was a progress update in March 2019)

The findings in New Zealand

The level of implementation of the indicators has not changed since 2017 (40 indicators unchanged, 6 worse, 1 better) showing that New Zealand has not increased its performance compared with international best practice. 

The Expert Panel recommended 39 concrete actions to improve the healthiness of New Zealand food environments. Eight policy actions and 14 infrastructure support actions were considered high priority and then ranked by the Expert Panel for importance and achievability. Thirteen recommendations were rated for priority action. For example:

  • Food systems and nutrition strategy
  • Science input
  • Food in national strategies
  • Sufficient income
  • Regulate food marketing to children
  • Levy on sugary drinks
  • Mandatory Health Star Rating
  • Healthy food in schools and early childhood education services
  • Food reformulation targets
  • Nutrition surveys
  • Monitor food environments
  • Healthy sustainable eating and activity guidelines
  • Commercial conflicts of interest (transparency measures)

The Expert Panel was very clear that for any progress to be made, there needs to be clear leadership, and the development of a multi-sectoral National Food Systems and Nutrition Strategy guided by a Scientific Committee. The Experts expressed concern about the extent of food insecurity exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, prioritising the policy action of ensuring households receive an adequate income to enable autonomy to make healthy food choices.

You can read the full reports here.


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