Working with food outlets

Working with retail outlets to make healthy changes to the foods and drinks they offer doesn’t need to be difficult. Use the information below to help you work with retailers that provide meals, snacks and drinks for staff and visitors in your organisation.


What are the guidelines for healthy retail outlets?

For retail outlets, the Healthy Choices guidelines recommend that:

  • at least 50% of the foods and drinks provided are from the GREEN (best choices) category
  • GREEN choices are always available and promoted and are displayed prominently
  • no more than 20% of the foods and drinks provided are from the RED (limit) category
  • RED choices are not promoted or displayed prominently.
  • RED choices (like sugary drinks, confectionery or deep fried foods) should not be supersized, and should not be included in specials like meal deals or ‘two for one’ offers.


Types of food outlets

Many types of retail outlets provide meals, snacks and drinks for an organisation, so the first thing you need to do is think about the type of outlet you will be working with, for example:

  • canteens
  • kiosks
  • cafes
  • cafeterias
  • food trucks
  • coffee shops or coffee carts

Some retail outlets stock mostly packaged products (e.g. kiosk) and some make most of their foods and drinks on-site (e.g. café). Having a good understanding of the type of outlet you are working with, and the way the outlet operates, will help you work with the outlet to make healthy changes.


Understanding contracts with retailers

If your organisation holds a contract with a retail outlet you will need to understand the conditions of the contract and work together with the retailer to make any healthy changes needed. You will need to find out:

  • who manages the outlet
  • the terms of the contract
  • whether the contract includes requirements for providing healthy foods and drinks
  • when the contract expires

Having this information will help you negotiate with the retailer and will help you work out whether you can switch to a new retail provider if needed.


Working with on-site retail outlets

If you have a contract with an on-site retail outlet, you can include a service agreement in the contract which states that the outlet needs to meet the Healthy Choices guidelines. This will help make sure your efforts in providing healthier choices are sustainable and embedded across your organisation.

This is easily achieved if your current contract can be changed or is about to be renewed, or if you are getting a new retail provider.

If you have a contract with an outlet that cannot be changed and is not up for renewal, you should encourage the outlet to make healthy changes before the contract expires.

If you are working with an on-site retail outlet, but there is no formal contract in place, this is an excellent opportunity to sign a new contract which includes requirements for providing healthy foods and drinks.

If your organisation is putting out a tender for a new outlet, make sure that requirements for providing healthy foods and drinks are included in the tender specifications.


Working with off-site retail outlets

Even if a retail outlet is located off-site (i.e. outside your organisation), and there is no formal contract in place, you can still encourage the outlet to implement the Healthy Choices guidelines. You can:

  • discuss the benefits of providing healthy foods and drinks – for the outlet and for customers
  • present case studies of other businesses who have successfully made healthy changes
  • survey staff and visitors about healthy foods and drinks they would like to purchase from the outlet
  • encourage staff and visitors to ask for healthier options from the outlet.

Assessing retail food outlet menus

You can find out how the food and drinks offered in a retail food outlet are classified under the Healthy Choices guidelines, with a free online menu assessment


Assessing and planning rotating menus

Hospitals with staff menus and cafes based on their inpatient menu often change their menu daily. To plan a healthy menu for each day of the week, first classify your food and drink items online using FoodChecker. Then use this rotational menu planner (Excel spreadsheet) to ensure you provide the correct percentage of GREEN, AMBER and RED foods and drinks on the menu each day.

Simply add each item and its classification to the planner, then plan each day’s menu in line with the Healthy Choices guidelines.


Promote your healthy options

If you are making changes towards meeting the Healthy Choices guidelines, you might be eligible to display the Healthy Choices signage. Find out more here.


Healthy food and drink ideas for retail outlets

Retail outlets looking for healthy meal, snack and drink ideas can be referred to:

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