Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Big backing for sugarless lanes in NZ

Local supermarkets monitor British chain Tesco's move to ban treats from checkout

Sarah Reid chooses stores for convenience but she thinks sweet treats should be removed. Picture / Richard Robinson
Sarah Reid chooses stores for convenience but she thinks sweet treats should be removed. Picture / Richard Robinson

More than a third of Kiwis want to see New Zealand supermarkets go completely sugar-free at the checkout, according to a survey.

The research, which polled 2271 New Zealanders, was conducted by Horizon Research in response to a move by British supermarket chain Tesco's decision to remove sweets and chocolates from its checkouts.

The Horizon survey found that 34.1 per cent of respondents wanted to have sugar-free checkouts at their local supermarkets, with 22 per cent saying they would seek out stores that did not have sugary goods at the counter.

But more than 70 per cent said such a move would not change their shopping habits and only 0.7 per cent said it would deter them from a store.

Horizon Research Principal Graeme Coleman said the results showed how more consumers would be enticed to shop at stores that offered sugar-free checkouts than those who would be put off by such an initiative.

"It looks like sugar-free checkouts may attract more customers than fewer," he said.

"More people than not would feel better about supermarkets who do it than ones who don't."

Auckland University of Technology nutrition professor Elaine Rush said it was significant that more than a third of respondents showed a preference for the move.

"It would likely have a big effect and feelgood factor on both sides, for the store because they are doing something customers approve of and actually giving the customers something that makes them feel better about themselves and using that store."

A spokeswoman for Foodstuffs, which operates New World, Pak'n Save and Four Square said the company was keeping a close eye on how the initiative went for Tesco's.

"We are also keen to find out what our customers think and as such we are going to reach out to our customer insights team to determine if this is something we should consider."

A Countdown spokeswoman said the chain introduced some sugar-free checkouts about five years ago, and was constantly reviewing its offerings.

"We always listen to customer feedback around the products we stock and how our stores are laid out, as well as keeping an eye on international trends and innovation."

Sugar-free checkouts

34.1%
want supermarkets to have sugar-free checkouts
21.7%
regularly buy sugary goods at the counter
22%
would seek out supermarkets that had sugar-free options at checkouts
71.2%
would not alter their shopping habits
32.9%
would feel better about a store that had sugar-free options

Source: Horizon Research online survey 2271 New Zealanders


Shopper prefers the healthy option

Although she is not often enticed by the array of sweet treats at a supermarket checkout, Sarah Reid thinks it would be socially responsible to remove the temptation.

The 24-year-old Aucklander said she mainly chose a store for its convenience, but if the option was available she would always choose one with healthy checkout options.

"If I had the choice and there were two supermarkets close to each other, and one had the healthier option and one didn't, I would always choose the one that had the healthier option."

She said she knew the treats were tempting and had often seen people falling for them, or children trying to get their parents to buy such items.

"I think it would be fine if there was a variety of things ... and they shouldn't just be at kids' height."

- NZ Herald

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