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FEATURE ARTICLE: AUSTRALIAN DIETARY GUIDELINES PRICE INDEXES
For the purpose of this analysis 'ADG food groups' refers to the first five core food groups, which are an important part of a healthy diet, as well as the two non-core categories in 'discretionary' and 'oils and fats'.
Examples of some of the products included in the ADG food groups are available in Appendix 1. Readers should note that not all foods could be readily re-classified to the ADG groups e.g. 'restaurant meals' and 'take away and fast foods' are analysed separately in Appendix 3, and are not reflected in the main article.
CPI data have been used for each capital city and the weighted average of the eight capitals (i.e. a national average). All figures presented in this paper are for the weighted average of the eight capital cities. All figures are calculated using calendar year averages - e.g. price change between 2001 and 2014 is the change between the average price index for 2001 and the average price index for 2014. All figures are rounded to one decimal place.
Similar to the CPI, the ADGPIs measure the rate of price change rather than the price level, and cannot be used to compare price levels between cities or groups. Selected CPI rates of price change are provided in Appendix 2 for comparison to ADGPIs.
The CPI applies weights to different products to measure the average price change of the basket. For example a change in the price of bread will have a greater impact on the CPI basket than would the same change in the price of table salt. In practice this is done by applying different weights for each product based on their respective shares of household expenditure.
Similarly, smaller cities (in expenditure terms) are given smaller weights than larger ones. CPI and ADGPI weights are derived from the Household Expenditure Survey (cat. no. 6530.0), available on the ABS website, and updated as appropriate.
Table 1 compares the relative weight of each ADG food group. This analysis shows that 'discretionary food items' account for over half of consumers' spending on food in all periods, whilst 'fruit' and 'vegetables' account for around 15%. The ADGPI weighting patterns differ from equivalent categories in the CPI food and non-alcoholic beverages group due to the re-classification of products.
Table 2 presents the average annual rates of price change for each group. Prices grew in every group over the fourteen year period 2001 to 2014. Four out of seven ADG food groups grew faster than the CPI (2.7% per year) with 'vegetables' experiencing the fastest average annual rate of price change (3.8%). 'Grains and cereals', 'milk and alternatives' and 'meats and alternatives' saw slower average annual rates of price change than the CPI.
The average annual rates of price change were strongest in the period 2001 to 2010, and all ADG food groups were above the CPI (2.9% per year). The fastest average annual rate of price change among the ADG food groups during the period 2001 to 2010 was seen in 'oils and fats' (4.7%), followed by 'milk and alternatives' (4.2%) and 'vegetables' (3.9%). An influence on food prices during this period was the drought of the early 2000s.
Cyclones Larry (2006) and Yasi (2011) caused banana prices to rise rapidly. This was followed by rapid returns to normal price levels. The effects of the cyclones dominated the ADG 'fruit' group during these periods.
Over the most recent five years, average annual rates of price change have slowed, with some groups even recording negative price change. Figure 3 shows that the ADG 'oils and fats', 'milk and alternatives', 'grains and cereals', and 'meats and alternatives' groups were relatively unchanged between 2010 and 2014. Influential factors during this period may have included the drought abating and supermarket price competition in some areas (e.g. bread, milk and beef prices).
The CPI food and non-alcoholic beverages group saw a corresponding slowing of its average annual rate of price change to 1.6% between 2010 and 2014, which was less than prices in the broader economy (average annual growth in the CPI was 2.5%). 'Vegetables' and 'fruit' prices still grew faster (3.6% and 2.8% respectively) than overall CPI.
International factors have contributed towards trends in food prices in Australia over the period 2001 to 2014. Potential influences may have included the growing demand from emerging nations and the global financial crisis impacting agricultural commodity prices.
The full dataset of quarterly index numbers for the ADGPIs is available from the ABS website.
'Restaurant meals' and 'take away and fast foods' could not be included in the overall ADGPI analysis because many meals are combinations of multiple ADG food groups. For example the ingredients for a ham and pineapple pizza can include bread, tomato paste, pineapple, cheese, ham, sauce and oil. In other words, just one pizza can have elements of every ADG group. Thus, analysing price change in 'restaurant meals' and 'take away and fast foods' within an ADG framework is impractical. Although 'restaurant meals' and 'take away and fast foods' are not applicable to the ADG food groups, they represent a significant portion of consumers' spending on food and beverages. If they were included in the ADGPI weights comparison, they would make up approximately 25% of the total. As such, they warrant an individual analysis.
Prices in 'restaurant meals' and 'take away and fast foods' have grown as fast as the CPI 'food and non-alcoholic beverages' group. The trends in 'restaurant meals' and 'take away fast foods' prices tend to track closely to those of wages in 'accommodation and food services' Wage Price Index, (cat. no. 6345.0) available on the ABS website. 'Restaurant meals' and 'take away and fast foods' establishments involve a much larger service component (chefs, wait staff, dish cleaners, running cooking appliances etc.) than food purchased at supermarkets and grocery stores.
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