This week Down Under

Healthy eating a worthy ideal, but still too expensive for Australians

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Nutrition

While Australians largely view eating more fruit and vegetables a priority while they cut down on sugar and fat, many are put off by the cost and time involved in doing so, according to a landmark market research report.

The Ipsos study, which surveyed some 3,000 consumers, claims to be the most comprehensive of its kind into Australian eating behaviour, and looked at four key areas: how consumption is changing over time; influences on healthy food decisions; trends in relation to home cooking; and behavioural drivers and venue choices for eating out.

Having been asked to identify their top five food priorities this year 40% of Australians identified eating more fresh food and veg, followed by consuming smaller portion sizes; reducing sugar intake from food, eating healthier snacks and cutting down on fat were each named by roughly a quarter of survey-takers, who were allowed multiple selections.

Taste and price topped the list of in-store purchase decision drivers, at 72% and 63% respectively, followed by price discounts. In addition, health continued to be the high-priority area for 2016 and Australians said they wanted the government to do more about it. After a number of food safety scares last year, food origin and safety is a clear priority and sustainability and recycling continues to gain traction.

One in two adult Australians believed that there is too much sugar in packaged goods, however only one in four said they had tried to reduce their sugar intake.

In terms of preferences, 55% would like to eat less artificially sweetened food, almost half wanted to reduce their sugar from beverages and from breakfast cereals, and 35% wanted less sugar from sweet snacks.


Snacking is still very popular with two-thirds of Australians, who admitted to eating between meals, and healthy snacks have become a priority. Although diet fads are now well known, with the Paleo diet achieving the highest awareness at 47%, followers of these diets remain low at below 10%.

Our study shows that while making healthier food choices is a key priority for Australians, the typical, everyday shopper is still struggling to balance healthiness against convenience and their budget​,” said Ipsos strategy and research director, Kathy Benson.

Making a quick decision in-store, purchasing products which are familiar and easy to use at home, as well as meeting budget restrictions, are still very important factors when it comes to making food purchases​.

Our budgets still have a higher priority in-store than our health aspirations. Easy decisions rule and finding a healthy choice is still a challenge for many despite the introduction of the government’s Health Star rating system​.”

In terms of future growth areas, two-thirds of respondents said they would like to eat more natural sugar substitutes, and 55% would opt for “no added hormone” beef. Consuming more organic chicken, stall-free pork, organic beef, plant-based milk alternatives, sugar substitutes and vegetable protein were also popular ideals. 

More stories from Down Under…

JV partner forces SunRice to put ASX listing plans on ice

Australian rice exporter SunRice has been forced to hold off on a planned ASX floatation until one of its joint-venture partners has carried out a review.


The company had been planning to de-list from the National Stock Exchange in favour of the Australian Securities Exchange to preserve grower control and allow private investors to trade its shares.

The news comes as the SunRice Board engages in a process to review its capital structure and develop a new model for the future.

The company said in a statement that the unnamed partner had decided that the capital restructure justified its own review of the joint-venture’s arrangements. It pointed out that SunRice remained committed to the listing, and enjoyed “strong support​” from both A- and B-class shareholders. 

The timing of the Capital Restructure is now being impacted by circumstances related to one of our joint venture partners; it is not being impacted by operational issues or recent media commentary regarding companies with similar capital structures​,” said SunRice chairman, Laurie Arthur. 

Indeed, maintenance of our guidance on anticipated FY16 financial results indicates that the business has continued to perform well since January 2016​.” 

The statement also distanced SunRice from the disappointing financial performances of other agribusinesses “that might be regarded as having capital structures similar to that proposed by the [SunRice] capital restructure​”—namely Murray Goulburn, which last week significantly cut its profit forecast and the prices it will pay its suppliers.

It is important to highlight that the delay in the timing of the capital restructure is not related to business performance or prevailing market conditions​,” the statement added.

Nestlé leads food companies in employee satisfaction awards

Nestlé has once again been named Australia’s top food and beverage employer out of a pool of 150 private and public companies selected from the country’s biggest satisfaction survey.


More than 10,000 respondents rated companies on 17 key metrics covering career opportunities to a company’s social values and work-life balance for the Randstad Awards.

For the second consecutive year, Nestlé was chosen as the most attractive FMCG company and was placed 7th overall, with the next closest consumer goods company, Mondelēz, coming in at number 14. 

Airlines Virgin and Qantas occupied the top two positions, followed by aerospace major BAE Systems.

Randstad reported that the attractiveness of the FMCG sector had jumped in 2016 and was now second to the aviation sector, with 40 per cent of respondents stating they would like to work at a consumer goods company.

Nestlé Australia chief executive Trevor Clayton said the awards reflected the sentiment in the community that the world’s largest food manufacturer was a desirable place to work.

Nestlé is a company with a strong purpose—we care not only about producing nutritious, tasty products for our consumers but we also care about the communities in which we operate​,” he said, adding that the company has been witnessing a surge of graduates seeking employment at the company.

Current employees can also see that the work we do at Nestlé has a huge impact on the community [including] the initiatives we have in place all around Oceania to help people live healthier and more active lives. It makes them want to be part of the journey and stay for the long haul​,” he said.

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