• To evaluate price discounts on food and beverages in remote community stores. 
  • To assess the impact of price discount strategies on food and beverages purchased in remote community stores
  • To explore the enablers and barriers to strategy implementation.

Poor nutrition is a major contributor to the burden of disease experienced by Indigenous Australians, particularly those living in remote communities where the cost of food is higher than elsewhere, and community residents generally have low incomes.

In 2010, a food retail management company operating across remote Australia implemented pricing policies favouring healthy food purchases. The owners of 18 remote community stores participated in a retrospective evaluation of these strategies. The evaluation describes the type of interventions implemented and highlights the opportunities for collaboration between the retail and public health sector.

Implications for policy and practice:

This project was the first to bring together such a large group of store committees, demonstrating that projects on this scale were possible to coordinate.

Our research has found:  

Indigenous leaders considered food pricing policy a priority for nutrition improvement.  Store associations are committed to finding solutions in this area. No impact of price discounts on stores sales was discernable. This is likely due to the magnitude of the price discount, implementation fidelity and discount promotion.

Interviews revealed elements which appeared to support and challenge the implementation of strategies. This study highlights the opportunities for evaluation of strategies in real-life settings with rigorous evaluation frameworks in place.

Chief investigators:
Contact information:
Project dates:

Completed in 2011.

  • University of South Australia
  • Store owners
  • Outback Stores
Research team:


  1. Ferguson M, O’Dea K, Holden S, Miles E, Brimblecombe J. (2017). Food and beverage price discounts to improve health in remote Aboriginal communities: mixed method evaluation of a natural experiment. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 41:32-7
  2. Thomas, D.P., Ferguson, M., Johnston, V., & Brimblecombe, J. (2013). Impact and Perceptions of Tobacco Tax Increase in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 15(6), 1099–106.