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Apparent Consumption of Selected Foodstuffs, Australia

Provides experimental estimates of apparent consumption per capita of selected foods based on sales of products in Australia

Reference period
2020-21 financial year

Key statistics

  • 14.7 million tonnes of food and non-alcoholic beverages were sold, 1.4% more than in 2019-20
  • The increase in weight was primarily driven by greater beverage sales
  • Total dietary energy available averaged 8,883 kJ per person per day, down 1.0% from 2019-20
  • Discretionary foods contributed 38.1% of total dietary energy available, a slight increase from 2019-20 (37.7%)

Summary

Apparent consumption

Apparent consumption in this publication measures the amount of food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased from the food retail sector (major supermarkets and smaller outlets such as convenience stores, butchers, seafood shops, bakeries, delis and fresh food markets). Apparent consumption data does not include food purchases from fast food outlets, cafes and restaurants, nor food obtained by other means such as foraging, hunting or fishing. As apparent consumption in this publication is based on sales data, it does not account for food purchases that are stored, wasted or otherwise not consumed.  While apparent consumption therefore does not necessarily represent total dietary consumption nor the consumption patterns of individuals or groups, it can provide valuable insights into the overall nutrition profile of foodstuffs sold in the food retail sector in Australia, and how this profile changes over time.

Apparent consumption in this publication is reported by 12-month period (2020-21 refers to the period from 01 July 2020 to 30 June 2021) and by calendar month. 

While changes in consumer behaviour associated with COVID-19 were generally less marked in the 2020-21 period, compared with the earlier year, estimates are still likely influenced by ongoing household substitution of home prepared meals instead of dining out. For general information on the scope and methods see Explanatory Notes. 

Apparent consumption by weight

In 2020-21, 14.7 million tonnes of food and non-alcoholic beverages were sold from supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience and specialty food stores and fresh food markets across Australia. This was an increase of 1.4% (204,100 tonnes) on the previous 12-month period (2019-20) and an increase of 4.9% (686,000 tonnes) compared with 2018-19. 

These apparent consumption totals are expected to be significantly less than the true weight of all foods and beverages consumed. This is because apparent consumption in this publication does not include the major weight contribution to the diet of tap water, both as a beverage and added as an ingredient in another food or beverage (e.g. tea, coffee, rice). In addition, these apparent consumption totals do not include alcoholic beverages, food and beverages sold from cafes, restaurants and fast-food outlets, or home-grown and wild harvested foods.

In daily per capita terms, apparent consumption averaged just over 1.5 kg per day with 1,566 grams per capita in 2020-21, up from 1,547 grams (1.2% increase) in the previous year and an increase of 2.8% compared with 2018-19.  The overall increase in the total weight of food and beverages available for consumption was driven by beverages which increased by 22 grams (6.2%) to 373 grams per capita per day in 2020-21. The balance of all other foods (excluding beverages) of 1,193 grams per capita was slightly lower (-0.3% or 3.2 grams per capita per day less) than in 2019-20. These changes have helped push the relative contribution of non-alcoholic beverages to 23.8% up from 22.7% in 2020-21. 

The Major food groups contributing most (over 80%) to the total daily per capita weight of all products sold in 2020-21 were:

  • Non-alcoholic beverages (making up 24.7% of total weight with 387 grams per day)
  • Milk products (18.0%, 282 grams)
  • Vegetable products (12.6%, 197 grams)
  • Fruit products (9.3%, 146 grams)
  • Meat products (9.0%, 141 grams) 
  • Cereal products (such as rice, bread, flour and pasta) with 8.2% and 129 grams.

While the 6.2% growth in Non-alcoholic beverages in 2020-21 was the largest increase (22.5 grams per day) among the Major food groups, Dairy and meat substitutes had the fastest growth with a 13.8% increase in the year to June 2021.  This growth in Dairy and meat substitutes was similar to that seen in the year to 2019-20 (13.7%), although the per capita apparent consumption remains a small contributor at 19.8 grams per day in 2020-21.  

A number of Major food groups underwent a decline in apparent consumption in the year to June 2021. For several of these food groups, the falls in 2020-21 are likely to be corrections following the COVID-related sales surge occurring in the year to June 2020. These included:

  • Legume and pulse products and dishes (down by 9.0% to 8.1 grams per day, following a 12.7% increase in the year ending 30 June 2020)
  • Soup (down 6.1% in 2020-21 to 4.6 grams per day, following growth of 8.9% over the previous year)
  • Sugar products (decreased 5.4% to 22.6 grams per day, following a 3.5% increase in the year to June 2020).

The largest relative decline was for Infant formula and foods, falling 26.1% to 3.4 grams per day in 2020-21, which followed a 22.0% drop in the year ending June 2020.

a. Apparent consumption per capita, grams per day

Among the Sub-major food groups, the most significant per capita contributors to the total weight of foods and beverages purchased in 2020-21 were:

  • Dairy milk (187 grams per day or 11.9%)
  • Soft drinks (178 grams per day, 11.4%)
  • Bottled water (114 grams per day, 7.3%)
  • Regular breads and bread rolls (55 grams per day, 3.5%)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (54 grams per day, 3.5%).

(a) Apparent consumption per capita, grams per day

Two of the leading Sub-major groups experienced notable increases in apparent consumption:

  • Bottled water, up 12 grams (or 11.8%) to 114 grams per day
  • Soft drinks, up 6.6 grams (or 3.9%) to 178 grams per day.

In contrast, Dairy milk underwent a decline of 3.2 grams (or -1.7%) to 187 grams per day in 2020-21. The drop in Dairy milk may be in part offset by a rise in Dairy milk substitutes (unflavoured) which increased 14.6% (or 2.2 grams) during 2020-21 to 17.3 grams per day, following a similar rate of growth (13.5%) in the prior 12-month period (ending 30 June 2020). 

Among less commonly consumed Sub-major groups there were some relatively large increases in the daily apparent consumption of: 

  • Electrolyte and energy drinks, which rose 21.6% to 19.7 grams
  • Crustacea and molluscs, which grew 8.7% to 2.5 grams (mostly from prawns)
  • Fin fish (i.e. uncooked fish, either frozen or fresh) increased by 9.6% to 5.7 grams
  • Fish and seafood products (i.e. prepared fish excluding canned/bottled products) rose 6.5% to 3.3 grams.

The total tonnes of intense sweetening agents sold in 2020-21 (1,400 tonnes) was around 16.7% higher than in 2019-20 (1,200 tonnes) and 27.3% higher than in 2018-19 (1,100 tonnes). Intense sweetening agents include artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose as well as natural sweeteners such as stevia.

a. Apparent consumption per capita, grams per day

Dietary energy

Food and non-alcoholic beverage sales in the Food Retail sector provided the equivalent of 8,883 kilojoules (kJ) of dietary energy per capita per day in 2020-21. This was 1.0% (or 91kJ) less than the average of 8,974 kJ per day in 2019-20.

Following the exceptionally high volume of COVID-related food sales from March to June 2020 that drove the increase in dietary energy in 2019-20, the 2020-21 period has seen the dietary energy available from a number food groups return to pre-COVID levels. Cereals and cereal products was the largest such correction, dropping 74 kJ per capita per day (a 4.4% decrease) compared to the previous year (2019-20) in which there was a 68 kJ increase from the Cereals and cereal products that occurred as householders stocked up on rice and flour. 

A number of other Major food groups also underwent partial corrections in their contribution to per capita dietary energy in 2020-21 following large increases in 2019-20. These included:

  • Fats and oils, with an 8 kJ per day decline in 2020-21 (following a 41 kJ increase in 2019-20)
  • Sugar products, from which daily per capita dietary energy fell 18 kJ (following a 14 kJ increase in 2019-20)
  • Cereal based products and dishes, which provided 9 kJ less dietary energy per day in 2020-21 (following a 17 kJ increase in 2019-20).

The Major food groups that saw the greatest increase in dietary energy per capita per day between 2019-20 and 2020-21 were:

  • Meat and poultry products rose 15 kJ (1.4%)
  • Confectionery and bars rose 11 kJ (2.1%) 
  • Snack foods rose 7 kJ (2.3%) 
  • Dairy & meat substitutes rose 5 kJ (12.3%).

At the more detailed Sub-major food group level, the foods contributing most to the decrease in total dietary energy per capita per day in 2020-21 were:

  • Flour, rice and other grains fell 38 kJ (7.8% decrease) to 453 kJ
  • Pasta fell 17 kJ (7.6% decrease) to 210 kJ
  • Sugar, honey and syrups fell 15 kJ (6.5% decrease) to 220 kJ
  • Dairy milk fell 15 kJ (2.8% decrease) to 495 kJ
  • Bread and bread rolls fell 14 kJ (2.4% decrease) to 565 kJ.

The dietary energy available from Bread and bread rolls fell in both 2019-20 and 2020-21.

A number of Sub-major food groups provided more energy in 2020-21 compared with 2019-20. The greatest daily per capita increases were seen in:

  • Poultry rose 9 kJ (2.9%) to 315 kJ
  • Mixed dishes with poultry products rose 8 kJ (7.9%) to 104 kJ
  • Potato snacks rose 7 kJ (4.5%) to 168 kJ
  • Potatoes rose 5 kJ (2.3%) to 206 kJ
  • Cheese rose 6 kJ (1.8%) to 326 kJ
  • Electrolyte, energy and fortified drinks rose 5 kJ (21.3%) to 27 kJ
  • Salad dressings rose 5 kJ (6.4%) to 81 kJ.

These sub-major food groups all saw increases in available dietary energy across both 12-month periods from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
 

Macronutrient contribution to total dietary energy available

Dietary energy from food and beverages is sourced from macronutrients which include carbohydrate, protein, fat, dietary fibre and alcohol. 

In 2020-21, the relative contribution of each macronutrient to the dietary energy available from all food and beverages sold in the Food Retail sector was:

  • Carbohydrate (43.6%, down from 44.1% in 2019-20)
  • Fat (39.3%, up from 38.9% in 2019-20)
  • Protein (15.2%, similar to 15.1% in 2019-20)
  • Dietary fibre (1.9%, unchanged from 2019-20)
  • Alcohol (0%) (Note, alcoholic beverages are not in scope for this data. See Explanatory Notes for more information).

Most of the decrease in the proportion of total energy from carbohydrate was due to a drop in energy from starch (22.2 to 21.9%), a complex carbohydrate found in foods such as grains, cereals and potato. The increase in the proportion of energy from fat came from slight increases across saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

An imbalance among relative proportions of macronutrients is considered a risk factor for nutrient deficiencies and chronic disease. Recommendations known as Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) specify the proportion of total energy from each macronutrient that is recommended. The proportion of energy available from protein was within the relevant AMDR, while the proportion of energy from carbohydrate and fat were below and above of their relevant AMDRs, respectively.
 

Table 1: Proportion of total energy available from macronutrients and Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges(a)
MacronutrientApparent consumption proportion (%) Recommended range(a) (%)
 2018-192019-202020-21 
Protein15.315.115.215-25
Carbohydrate44.044.143.645-65
Total fat38.938.939.320-35

a. See: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand.

 

 

Australian Dietary Guidelines

The Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) recommend Australians "enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day". The five food groups are: 

  • Grain (cereal) foods
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Fruit
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
  • Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (lean meats and alternatives).

The ADG also recommend limiting consumption of discretionary foods (i.e. those containing relatively higher amounts of saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and/or alcohol). Discretionary foods are often high in energy and can take the place of more healthy and nutritious options from the five food groups. See the Discretionary Foods section at the end of this chapter for more information on the energy available from discretionary foods in 2020-21.

The ADG include minimum recommended daily serves of the five food groups to be consumed to satisfy nutrient requirements and minimise the risk of diet-related chronic disease. These minimum recommended daily serves vary by age, sex and life stages such as pregnancy and lactation, and reflect the different nutrient requirements across the life course. Serves define the weight or volume of a particular food (for example, rice) that provides a similar amount of energy and key nutrients to a serve of a different food (for example, pasta) in the same food group (in this example, grain and cereal foods).

In this publication, the ADG minimum recommended serves for each of the five food groups are compared with apparent consumption of non-discretionary foods. This is achieved by deriving a single average recommended serve value for each food group, using the 2020 Estimated Resident Population to 'weight' the ADG serve recommendations for different age and sex groups (excluding pregnancy and breastfeeding recommendations). See Glossary for more information.

It is important to note that apparent consumption data in this publication is based on sales data rather than consumption data, and only reflects a proportion of the total food supply (the food retail sector), and per capita values are derived from a national total value. As a result, comparisons between per capita apparent consumption and average recommended serve values are not a reliable indicator of the proportion of the population meeting the ADG minimum recommended serves and should be interpreted with caution. See Explanatory Notes for more information.

Compared to the average recommended serves per day, the apparent daily consumption per capita for all Australians in 2020-21 was:

  • 3.8 serves of grains and cereals (average recommendation 5.5 serves)
  • 2.4 serves of vegetables and legumes/beans (average recommendation 5.0 serves)
  • 1.4 serves of fruit (average recommendation 2.0 serves)
  • 1.6 serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (average recommendation 3.0 serves)
  • 1.8 serves of lean meats and alternatives (average recommendation 2.5 serves).

Compared with the previous 12-month period (2019-20), apparent daily consumption per capita decreased in 2020-21 for grains and cereals (from 4.0 to 3.8 serves), while the other four food groups remained steady.
 

a. Includes non-discretionary foods only. 
b. Average minimum recommended serve values reflect the size of the population in each age and sex group (excluding pregnant and breastfeeding recommendations).
c. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
d. Includes fruit juice.
e. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
f. Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nut and seeds and legumes/beans.

For the grains and cereals food group, the ADG recommends these foods be mostly wholegrain or high fibre, rather than refined or low fibre. In 2020-21, one-third (33.7%) of apparent consumption serves from the grains and cereals food group were wholegrain or high fibre. This proportion was similar to 2019-20 (33.2%) and a decrease from 2018-19 (34.8%).

(a) Includes non-discretionary foods only.

The ADG recommends that for the fruit food group, fruit juice and dried fruit should only be consumed occasionally as a substitute for fresh, frozen or canned fruit. This is because fruit juices are acidic and often low in dietary fibre compared to fresh fruit, while dried fruit is energy dense and can increase the risk of dental decay. In 2020-21, almost one-third (31.5%) of the apparent consumption serves from the fruit food group came from fruit juice (21.2%) or dried fruit (10.3%). While the proportion of fruit serves coming from fresh/canned fruit increased by around one percentage point to (68.5) since 2019-20 (67.6%), that proportion is only slightly higher than in 2018-19 (68.0%). 

Discretionary foods

Discretionary foods (such as biscuits, confectionery, pastries, processed meats, salty snack foods and sugar-sweetened beverages) are discouraged in the ADG as they are not necessary for a healthy diet. Discretionary foods are typically low in essential nutrients and high in energy, saturated fat, added sugar and/or added salt. In 2020-21, over one-third (38.1%) of dietary energy from food and non-alcoholic beverage sales in the Food Retail sector came from discretionary foods, slightly higher than in 2019-20 (37.7%). 

The Major food groups that contributed most to discretionary energy in 2020-21 were:

  • Cereal based products (21.3%)
  • Confectionery (15.5%)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages (9.1%)
  • Snack foods (8.9%)
  • Meat and poultry products (8.6%)
  • Sugar products (8.5%).

The largest change in percent contribution to total discretionary energy from 2019-20 to 2020-21 was for sugar products, which decreased from 9.0% to 8.5%. The greatest increases were seen in confectionery (from 15.2% to 15.5%) and snack foods (from 8.7% to 8.9%).

Within Sub-major food groups, leading contributors to energy available from discretionary foods were:

  • Chocolate (10.2%)
  • Sweet biscuits (8.0%)
  • Sugar, honey and syrups (6.5%)
  • Pastries (5.2%)
  • Soft drinks (4.9%)
  • Potato snacks (5.0%).

The largest change in percent contribution to total discretionary energy from 2019-2020 to 2020-21 was for sugar, honey and syrups, decreasing from 7.0% to 6.5%. A significant decrease was also seen in sweet biscuits, declining from 8.2% to 8.0%. The greatest increase was seen in potato snacks (increase from 4.7% to 5.0%).

Basic food groups

In addition to assessing apparent consumption of the ADG five food groups and discretionary foods separately, examining apparent consumption of basic food groups (without distinguishing between non-discretionary and discretionary foods) provides a general overview of the types of foods and non-alcoholic beverages sold in the Food Retail sector. This publication reports on five basic food groups, broadly similar in concept to the ADG five food groups but representing all foods and beverages whether discretionary or non-discretionary. Because the basic food groups include discretionary sources, they are not equivalent to intake of the ADG food groups, and as such should not be assessed directly against the ADG recommended minimum serves.

In 2020-21 apparent consumption of each basic food group (in grams per capita per day) consisted of:

  • Grains and cereals (246 grams)
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans (226 grams)
  • Fruit (198 grams including fruit juice, 151 grams excluding fruit juice)
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives (277 grams)
  • Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (170 grams)

Compared with 2019-20, apparent consumption in 2020-21 was similar for:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans

but lower for:

  • Grains and cereals (down 9 grams per capita, after increasing 11 grams in the year to June 2020)
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives (3 grams per capita decrease in 2020-21, following on from a 1 gram per capita decrease in 2019-20) 

 

Contributing food types within grains and cereals basic food group

In 2020-21, apparent consumption of the grains and cereals basic food group was equivalent to 246 grams per day per capita. This consisted of:

  • 93 grams (38%) from grains (such as rice)
  • 70 grams (28%) from breads
  • 42 grams (17%) from flour
  • 28 grams (11%) from oats
  • 13 grams (5%) from breakfast cereal flakes

Decreases were seen in apparent consumption for all sub-groups of grains and cereals between 2019-20 and 2020-21. Significant relative decreases were seen in grains (down 5.0%) and flour (3.9% decrease). These decreases saw apparent consumption of grains and flour return towards (but still slightly higher than) 2018-19 values.

Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, apparent consumption decreased for both refined (lower fibre) and wholegrain (higher fibre) grains and cereals. Similar to 2019-20, in 2020-21 the majority (70%) of apparent consumption of grains and cereals was from refined options.

Contributing food types within vegetables and legumes/beans basic food group

Apparent consumption of vegetables and legumes/beans was equivalent to 226 grams per capita per day in 2020-21, consisting of:

  • 93 grams (41%) from 'other' vegetables (such as tomato, cucumber, avocado and pumpkin)
  • 62 grams (27%) from starchy vegetables
  • 36 grams (16%) from green and brassica vegetables (such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and bok choi)
  • 23 grams (10%) from orange vegetables
  • 13 grams (5.6%) from legumes 

Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, apparent consumption of brassica vegetables (such as broccoli, bok choi and cabbage) increased by 7.2% from 13.9 to 14.9 grams per day.

 

Contributing food types within fruit basic food group

Apparent consumption of fruit was 198 grams per day per capita in 2020-21, coming from:

  • Fresh or canned fruit (146 grams or 74%)
  • Fruit juice (47 grams or 24%)
  • Dried fruit (5.3 grams or 3%)

The greatest relative changes in apparent consumption of specific types of fruit between 2019-20 and 2020-21 was from berries which increased by 10% (from 12.8 to 14.1 grams per day), mostly from fresh strawberries (6.8 to 7.5 grams per day).

Compared to 2019-2020, apparent consumption in 2020-21:

  • Increased by 1.4% for fresh or canned fruit
  • Decreased by 1.5% for fruit juice
  • Decreased by 3.6% for dried fruit

Contributing food types within milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives basic food group

For the milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives food group, apparent consumption in 2020-21 was equivalent to 277 grams per capita per day, consisting of:

  • 229 grams (83%) from milk
  • 26 grams (9%) from cheese
  • 22 grams (8%) from yoghurt

The majority (70%) of dairy milk was regular fat.

Between 2019-20 and 2020-21 the following changes in apparent consumption were seen:

  • Milk decreased by 1.6% from 233 to 229 grams per day
  • Cheese increased by 2.4% from 25 to 26 grams per day
  • Yoghurt was similar to 2019-20 at 22 grams per day.

(a) includes dairy milk and dairy milk alternatives

Contributing food types within meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes basic food group

Apparent consumption of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans was 170 grams per capita per day in 2020-21, including:

  • 66 grams (39.0%) from red meat
  • 47 grams (28%) from poultry
  • 19 grams (11%) from eggs
  • 14 grams (8%) from legumes as a meat alternative
  • 14 grams (8%) from fish and seafood
  • 11 grams (6%) from nuts and seeds
  • 1.5 grams (0.9%) from meat substitutes, including tofu

More than three-quarters (79%) of all meat was unprocessed, a similar level to 2019-20 and 2018-19.

Increases in apparent consumption between 2019-20 and 2020-21 were seen for:

  • Poultry (4.0% increase from 45 to 47 grams per day)
  • Fish and seafood (2.2% increase from 13.5 to 14.0 grams per day)
  • Nuts and seeds (1.9% increase from 10.3 to 10.5 grams per day).

The greatest relative increases within the fish and seafood sub-group were:

  • Salmon (fresh and frozen) (8% increase from 2.5 to 2.7 grams per day)
  • Prawns (11% increase from 1.8 to 2.0 grams per day)

While apparent consumption of fish and seafood increased overall between 2019-20 and 2020-21, there was a decline in canned fish products (down 9% from 5.5 to 5.0 grams per capita), following the increase in 2019-20 associated with the early consumer response to COVID-19.

Non-alcoholic beverages

The 2013 ADG recommend limiting intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks, and advises to "drink plenty of water". In this publication, apparent consumption of data is based on sales of beverages in the food retail sector only and does not account for tap water consumed either as plain water or added to other beverages such as tea and coffee, and so will significantly underrepresent total water consumption of the population. 

Per capita apparent consumption of selected non-alcoholic beverages was 364 mL per day in 2020-21, up 6.3% from 343 mL per day in 2019-20.  This increase followed a modest rise (0.7%) between 2018-19 to 2019-20. 

In 2020-21, the daily per capita volume of non-alcoholic beverages comprised:

  • Soft drinks, 174 mL (48%)
  • Packaged water, 114 mL (31%)  
  • Fruit and vegetable juices, 34 mL (9%)  
  • Fruit and vegetable drinks, 18 mL (5%)
  • Energy drinks, 11 mL (3.1%)
  • Electrolyte drinks, 7.7 mL (2.1%)
  • Cordials, 6.4 mL (1.8%).

The largest increases in daily per capita volumes between 2019-20 and 2020-21 were in:

  • Packaged water, increasing 12 mL to 114mL per day (12% growth)
  • Soft drinks, up 6.7 mL to 174 mL (4.0% growth). 

The beverages which grew most rapidly in the year to 30 June 2021 were:

  • Energy drinks, increasing 22% (from 9.2 to 11.2 mL per day)
  • Electrolyte drinks, increasing 18.5% (from 6.5 to 7.7 mL per day).

Over the two-year period from 2018-19 to 2020-21 the combined volume of energy drinks and electrolyte drinks increased by 20% from 15 to 19 mL per capita per day.

Sugar-sweetened and diet beverages

The overall 6.3% annual growth in the volume of non-alcoholic beverages in 2020-21 hides a clear difference in the growth of the non-alcoholic beverages that can be further classified as either sugar-sweetened or intense-sweetened (or diet) beverages. In the year to June 2021:

  • Diet beverages grew by 13% (from 63 to 71 mL per capita per day) 
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages rose 1.2% (126 to 128 mL per capita).

The more rapid growth of the intense-sweetened compared to sugar-sweetened beverages in both 2019-20 and 2020-21 has resulted in the share of selected beverages classified as intense-sweetened increasing from 32% to 36% between 2018-19 and 2020-21.

(a) Comprising soft drinks, cordials, energy and electrolyte (sports) drinks.

The proportion of apparent consumption that was intense-sweetened differed by beverage type. In 2020-21:

  • 39% of soft drink apparent consumption was intense-sweetened (up from 36% in 2019-20)
  • 22% of cordial apparent consumption was intense-sweetened (up from 19% in 2019-20)
  • 15% of energy drink apparent consumption was intense-sweetened (up from 14.3% in 2019-20)
  • 10% of electrolyte drink apparent consumption was intense sweetened (compared to 11% in 2019-20).

By month, consumption of diet beverage has gained steadily within the strong seasonal pattern seen for non-alcoholic beverages. Throughout 2019-20 and 2020-21, each month's per capita consumption of diet beverages averaged 10.5% more than the same month in the preceding year. In contrast, each month's consumption of sugar sweetened beverages since July 2019 has grown by an average 1.6% on the same month in the preceding year. 

(a) Daily per capita volume, comprising soft drinks, cordials, energy and electrolyte (sports) drinks.

Added and free sugars

Added sugars are defined as sugars that have been added to foods during their processing or preparation. Free sugars include all added sugars as well as the sugar that is naturally present in juice and honey. The sugar naturally present in unrefined foods, such as whole fruit or unflavoured milk, is not considered free sugar. 

The World Health Organisation recommends that for both children and adults, free sugars should make up less than 10% of an individual's dietary energy, and that a further reduction to less than 5% of dietary energy would provide additional health benefits. 

Apparent consumption data in this publication can be used to assess the percent contribution of energy from free sugars to total dietary energy available from food and non-alcoholic beverages sales in the Food Retail sector. This may differ significantly from the percent contribution of energy from free sugars to total dietary energy from all sources, including fast food, takeaway and restaurants.

In 2020-21, per capita apparent consumption of free sugars was 68.8 grams per day, equivalent to 12.4% of all dietary energy available from sales of food and non-alcoholic beverages. This proportion was similar in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and exceeds the World Health Organisation's recommendation that free sugars make up less than 10% of dietary energy.

The vast majority (92% or 64 grams) of free sugar apparent consumption in 2020-21 came from added sugar rather than naturally occurring sugar in the form of juice or honey. Most of the apparent consumption of free sugars (88.7%) came from discretionary foods. 

The Sub-major food groups contributing most to apparent consumption of free sugars in 2020-21 were:

  • Sugar, honey and syrups (20%)
  • Soft drinks (15%)
  • Chocolate (10%)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (6.3%)
  • Other confectionery (6.2%)
  • Sweet biscuits (5.8%).

The Sub-major food groups with the greatest increases in percent contribution to total free sugar apparent consumption between 2019-20 and 2020-21 were:

  • Electrolyte, energy and fortified drinks (increased from 1.9 to 2.3%)
  • Other confectionery, such as lollies, jellies and marshmallows (increased from 5.8 to 6.2%).

The greatest decreases in percent contribution to total free sugar apparent consumption were seen in:

  • Sugar, honey and syrups (decreased from 20.7 to 19.7%)
  • Cordials (decreased from 3.7 to 3.4%). 

Saturated fat

Of the total dietary energy available from food and non-alcoholic beverages sold by the food retail sector in 2020-21, 15.2% came from saturated fat and 0.7% from trans fatty acids. This was similar to 2018-19 and 2019-20, and exceeds the recommendation in the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand (NRVs) that recommends saturated fat and trans fatty acids together make up less than 10% of dietary energy. The 0.7% of total dietary energy coming from trans fatty acids in 2020-21 meets the World Health Organisation recommendation that no more than 1% of daily energy intake come from trans fatty acids. 

Per capita apparent consumption of saturated fat was 36.4 grams per day in 2020-21, similar to 2019-20 (36.6 grams per day) and 1.7% higher than in 2018-20 (35.8 grams per day).

Discretionary and non-discretionary foods each contributed around half of the available saturated fat in 2020-21 (49% and 51%, respectively).

Just under one-third (32%) of saturated fat came from milk products and dishes in 2020-21. Other leading contributors at the major food group level were:

  • Meat and poultry (15.5%)
  • Fats and oils (14.5%)
  • Cereal based products (such as biscuits, cakes, pastries and mixed dishes) (11.9%)
  • Confectionery (8.3%).

By sub-major group, the leading contributors were:

  • Cheese (11.3%)
  • Dairy milk (9.4%)
  • Chocolate (7.6%)
  • Beef, lamb and pork (5.8%)
  • Butter (5.4%)
  • Plant oils (4.0%).

Sodium

Food and non-alcoholic beverage sold by the food retail sector in 2020-21 provided the equivalent of 3,125 milligrams of sodium per capita per day. This was similar to apparent consumption in 2019-20 (3,127 milligrams per day) and up 4.8% from 2018-19 (2,982 milligrams per day). More than half of sodium apparent consumption (58%) came from discretionary foods.

Per capita apparent consumption of sodium in 2020-21 was 56% higher than the adult Suggested Dietary Target of 2,000 milligrams per day, an NRV set with the aim of reducing the average population blood pressure in Australia. Foods purchased from outlets such as fast food, takeaway and restaurants can be high in sodium and do not contribute to the apparent consumption amounts in this publication.

The proportion of salt purchased for non-food uses is unknown, so apparent consumption of sodium from sales of salt may be an overestimation (see Explanatory Notes). 

The Major food groups contributing most to apparent consumption of sodium in 2020-21 were:

  • Miscellaneous category (includes cooking and baking ingredients, such as seasonings, salt and baking soda) (27%)
  • Meat and poultry (15%)
  • Cereals and cereal products (14%) 
  • Savoury sauces and condiments (10.0%)
  • Cereal based products and dishes (9.1%)
  • Milk products and dishes (8.9%).

The leading Sub-major food groups contributing to sodium apparent consumption in 2020-21 were:

  • Herbs, spices and seasonings (includes salt, stock and stock powders) (22.5%) 
  • Regular breads and bread rolls (8.3%)
  • Gravies and savoury sauces (includes tomato, barbecue and soy sauce, marinades and pasta sauces) (7.9%)
  • Processed meat (7.3%)
  • Cheese (5.3%).

Data downloads

Data tables

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4316.0.