Australia’s total food consumption falls: ABS

Michelle Wisbey

15/04/2024 4:08:13 PM

The cost-of-living crisis has forced changes to eating habits, with shoppers choosing cheap and convenient items over fruit and veggies.

Bowls filled with different foods sitting on table
Australians are eating more potato chips, chocolate, and convenience meals than five years ago.

Australians consumed 3.9% less food last year as they skip the fresh produce aisles in favour of quick, low-cost meals, according to new Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.
Shoppers also ate less of all the major food groups, with fruit consumption down 7.9%, vegetable, dairy, and meat substitutes all declining by around 7%, and legumes down by 9.9%.
Alternatively, bottled water was up 1.6%, energy and sports drinks are up 3.3%, and chicken nugget consumption is up 2.6%.
Overall, 14.8 million tonnes of food and non-alcoholic beverages were sold in 2022–23, 1.9% less than the previous year, and total dietary energy available averaged 8703kJ per capita per day, down 3.7%.
The ABS says this overall lower consumption is associated with soaring food costs, as everyday Australians struggle through the cost-of-living crisis.
‘In the two years to June 2023, the cumulative Consumer Price Index increase for food and non-alcoholic beverages totalled 13.9% compared with a 4.9% cumulative increase over the three years prior,’ it said.
‘The recent price increases in food, along with a general increase in all consumer prices is consistent with a lower volume of food being purchased despite the value of food retail turnover in 2022–23 exceeding previous years.’
The data aligns with previous findings that consumers are being forced to cutback on spending, with health and wellbeing precautions taking a significant hit.
The number of patients who are delaying or not seeing a GP due to cost has doubled in recent years, with out-of-pocket costs a barrier to 7% of the population.
Compared to five years ago, Australians are eating 16% more potato chips, 10% more chocolate, and 9% more cereals and convenience meals.
However, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has fallen from a peak of 145 mL per person per day in 2020–21 to 134mL.
According to ABS health statistics spokesperson Paul Atyeo, each person had 186 g of vegetables a day in 2022–23, down from 200 g a day in 2021–22. 
‘Many of the foods that dropped during 2022–23 are part of longer-term trends,’ he said.
‘We’re consuming between 5–8% less cow’s milk, bread and fruit juice per person compared to 2018–19.’ 
Shoppers are also falling well short of meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines, consuming 2.2 serves of vegetables and legumes, compared to a recommendation of five serves each day.
Around four serves of grains and cereals are being consumed compared to a recommendation of 5.5, 1.3 serves of fruit, 1.5 serves of milk, yoghurt, and cheese, and 1.8 serves of lean meats.
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Dr Lynette Dorothy Allen   17/04/2024 12:26:18 PM

It is not difficult or expensive to consume a healthy diet - you just have to know how to cook from the basics. Potato chips are the most expensive way to buy potatoes and are not filling or nutritious .Bottled and canned drinks are unnecessary -you just need water and if you do not like the taste of town water buy a filter !