• Identifying cost effective policy options for food security in the face of environmental and population change

Australia’s future food security faces challenges from population growth and environmental constraints, such as climate change, water scarcity and declining oil supplies. There is a need to model the potential impacts of these environmental challenges on Australian food production to inform policy interventions that will secure a nutritious, sustainable food supply. This research will use an innovative scenario modelling approach to quantify the potential impacts of future environmental challenges on Australian food production. The subsequent stages apply proven policy mapping and health economics techniques to identify and prioritise cost-effective policy options for modifying the food system to meet these environmental challenges.

This research is funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Capacity Building Grant and will be completed in collaboration with VicHealth.

  • Developing regulatory reform recommendations for food policy

The FPU has developed a strategic framework to systematically map the food policy environment to comprehensively identify policy gaps, barriers and opportunities. This project applies the framework to identify policy interventions and recommend regulatory reform in three areas:

  • Developing policy recommendations for obesity prevention in Pacific Island countries in the context of the World Trade Organization agreements.
  • Reviewing the scope of risk analysis approaches within the decision-making procedure for existing food regulation in Australia to introduce amendments to better capture contemporary public health nutrition priorities.
  • Using regulation as a policy tool to proactively shape the structure and operation of the food and nutrition system to help prevent obesity.

This research is funded by a NHMRC Strategic Award and will be completed in collaboration with the WHO Western Pacific Region and the Law Faculties at Deakin and Monash Universities.

  • Developing theory of evidence based practice in food policy-making

This project critically analyses food policy case studies to gain insights into the impact of political variables (determinants) and stakeholder activities on policy. These insights will build theoretical understandings of how and why evidence is used in policy-making processes. The case studies being investigated include:

  • Food fortification policy (including folic acid fortification)
  • Nutrition, health and related claims food labelling policy
  • Nutrient reference values, Core Food Groups and Dietary guidelines
  • Food marketing to children.

This research is funded by a NHMRC Capacity Building Grant and will be completed in collaboration with Food Standards Australia New Zealand

  • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of food regulation policy

A database of 5,000 food product labels is being interrogated to monitor and evaluate compliance with and the impact of food regulation on the composition of staple foods. This project will also assess trends in the sodium content of food products, and food labelling.

This research is funded by a NHMRC Capacity Building Grant and will be completed in collaboration with Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Assessing policy implications for addressing poverty, behaviour and food cost
This project provides data to inform policy interventions targeting social and economic circumstances to make healthy food choices more accessible for low income families. The ‘Price Watch’ monitoring system, which collects information on grocery items at 60 locations across Australia, will provide policy-relevant data to analyse the social, geographical and seasonal variations in purchasing a nutritionally adequate diet. 

This research is funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant and will be completed in collaboration with Cochrane Public Health field.

The FPU undertakes the following roles in leading food policy-related training:

  • Coordination of postgraduate public health nutrition degrees
  • Chairing the delivery of relevant undergraduate and postgraduate teaching units
  • Managing the Nutrition Society of Australia’s registration scheme for public health nutritionists.


Representation on government food policy committees
FPU staff are active representatives on a number of government food policy committees, including:

  • NHMRC Dietary Guidelines Working Committee (Associate Professor Mark Lawrence)
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand Consumer and Public Health Dialogue (Associate Professor Mark Lawrence)

The FPU hosts the Food Alliance, an organisation working to achieve a food system that ensures sustainable food security and healthy eating for the Victorian population. To achieve its aim we work with a range of different stakeholders across the food system to:

  • Identify and analyse policy priorities
  • Highlight and share available evidence and the research gaps
  • Advocate for better food and farming policies
  • Monitor and report on the progress in food policy and regulatory reform

The FPU also advocates for food policy issues through its representation on professional associations including the Public Health Association of Australia, the Nutrition Society of Australia and the World Public Health Nutrition Association.