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Unhealthy links to Australia’s top food companies

Media release

Australia’s top 10 food companies either own or are connected to hundreds of different products, ranging from healthy to unhealthy options, a food map produced by the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia (PHAIWA) has found.

The study of the nation’s largest food companies showed nine out of 10 were owned by foreign companies, with Fonterra topping the revenue list followed by Coca Cola Amatil and Lion.

Ms Ainslie Sartori, a nutrition expert and a Research Associate with the Curtin University-based PHAIWA, said the study found many brands, which are promoted to children and young people, were linked to unhealthy foods and beverages.

“Once we started to map out who owned each food and beverage brand, we were quite surprised to realise some of the links between companies that sell healthy and unhealthy products,” Ms Sartori said.

“Many brands that are promoted at sporting events attended by children and young people are actually linked to companies that own alcohol or other unhealthy products.

“An example of this includes the popular children’s icy pole, Zooper Dooper, a sponsor of the Big Bash League – it is actually owned by Lion, which has a 40 per cent market share in beer.”

The food map also found Asahi, the Japanese-based beer company, owns popular soft drink brands such as Solo, Sunkist and Cool Ridge Water, and Uncle Tobys is owned by Nestle, which also owns a range of confectionary brands.

“This research shows that just 10 companies own a large share of Australia’s food industry,” PHAIWA Director Dr Melissa Stoneham said.

“We want Australians to be more aware of the connections between products they purchase and other companies, particularly when they may be unhealthy.”