This article describes an experiment to measure the impact of the Australasian “Health Star Rating” front of pack nutritional label system on consumer choice behaviour. This system presents a one-half to five star rating of nutritional quality via the front facings of food product packages. While this system has been recently rolled out across Australasia, no test of its impact on food choice has been conducted. A sample of 1200 consumers was recruited on exit from supermarkets in New Zealand. A 2 × 2 factorial design was used with two levels of cold cereal product nutritional status (high, five star/low, two star) and two levels of the Health Star Rating label (present/absent). The dependent variable was revealed choice behaviour. The results indicated that the presence of the label had a significant depressive effect on consumer preference, but that this impact was not moderated in any way by the nutritional status expressed by the label. The result represents a significant functional failure of the Health Star Rating label in this research environment. The nature of the failure is consistent with the consumers processing the label in much the same way as the nominal brand cues that dominate the retail food packaging.
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