The present study assessed the impact of the retailer-led removal of unhealthy beverages from display at a self-service café within a major health service. While unhealthy beverages remained available from behind the counter upon request, this was not communicated directly to customers.
Drinks were categorised based on the state government nutrient profiling system, classifying drinks as ‘green’ (best choices), ‘amber’ (choose carefully) and ‘red’ (limit). Total drink sales (as number of items sold per week) in the café were measured for five weeks. All unhealthy ‘red’ beverages were removed from display (but were still available for purchase) and the sales of all beverages were measured for another six weeks.
We found that, in response to this strategy, the proportion of ‘red’ drinks sold decreased from 33 % to 10 % of total drink sales. As ‘amber’ and ‘green’ drink sales increased in response to this strategy, total retailer sales remained steady. Most consumers appeared to switch to purchasing ‘amber’ drinks rather than the healthiest option, ‘green’ drinks.
The removal of unhealthy beverages from display can result in consumers making healthier purchases, while not significantly affecting retailers’ sales.
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