Aotearoa's Food Environment Dashboard

Effective government policies and actions across sectors are essential to increase the healthiness of food environments and to reduce obesity, diet-related non-communicable diseases, and their related inequalities.

Key Findings

In 2023 Aotearoa’s fourth Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) was conducted with an Expert Panel of over sixty independent and government public health experts. The Food-EPI assesses the Government’s level of implementation of policies and infrastructure support for improving the healthiness of food environments against international best practice. In 2023, the policy implementation progress the government had made since the 2014, 2017 and 2020 analyses was assessed.

Key findings

In 2023, New Zealand rated well against international best practice on a small number of policy and infrastructure support indicators including:

  • Preventing unhealthy foods from carrying health claims
  • Having policies and procedures in place for ensuring transparency in the development of food policies
  • The public having access to nutrition information and key documents
  • Regular monitoring of population body mass index (BMI) the prevalence of NCD risk factors and occurrence rates for the main diet-related NCDs and monitoring progress towards reducing health-related inequalities

Overall, however, the government has made minimal progress compared to international best practice over the last twelve years. Major implementation gaps (‘very little, if any’ or ‘low’ implementation) were identified for:

  • Government leadership in the area of obesity and NCD prevention
  • Food environment policies, especially for healthy food policies in schools
  • Fiscal policies to support healthy food choices
  • Implementing restrictions on children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing
  • Supporting communities to limit the density of unhealthy food outlets in their communities (for example, around schools)

Key Recommendations

High priority recommended policy actions for the New Zealand government from the 2023 assessment include:

Enabling Actions

Food Systems Strategy: The Government develops a long-term, multi-sectoral National Food Systems and Nutrition Strategy with clear outcomes and indicators to improve health, sustainability, food sovereignty, and equity and to uphold the Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Income support: The Government should support low-income households so they can afford a healthy diet.


Marketing to children: The Government introduces regulations to restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing to which children up to 18 years old are exposed through broadcast media, non-broadcast media and in children’s settings, using a WHO nutrient profiling model.


Fiscal levers for cheaper, healthier food: The Government implement a package of fiscal levers to reduce the absolute and relative cost of healthy food

Sugary drinks industry levy: The Government should introduce a tiered industry levy of at least 20% on sugary drinks and recycle the revenue for programmes to improve public health and wellbeing.


Food composition targets: The Government creates mandatory targets/standards for reducing sodium and added sugar in key food categories of processed and ultra-processed foods.


Healthier School Food The Government should require and support schools and early learning services to develop food policies which ensure healthy foods are provided and promoted. The Ministry of Education at least doubles the funding and reach of the healthy school lunches programme (Ka Ora, Ka Ako).

Infrastructure Support

The Government conducts a new national nutrition survey for children and adults to be commissioned in 2024.

For more information


Mackay, Sally; Percival, Hinako; Te Morenga, Lisa; Swinburn, Boyd (2023): Benchmarking Food Environments 2023: Progress by the New Zealand Government on implementing recommended food environment policies & priority recommendations. Report & Evidence Document. The University of Auckland.

Mackay, Sally; Sing, Fiona; Gerritsen, Sarah; Swinburn, Boyd (2020): Food-EPI 2020 Benchmarking NZ Food Environments. Summary & Full Report. The University of Auckland.

Food-EPI 2017 Full Report and Scorecard.

Food-EPI 2014 Full Report, Executive Summary & Scorecard.

Indicator Assessment Criteria