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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
2019-20 financial year

Key statistics

  • 14.5 million tonnes of food and non-alcoholic beverages were sold in 2019-20, 4.0% more than in 2018-19
  • Total dietary energy available averaged 9,009 kJ per person per day, up 3.5% from 2018-19
  • The increase in weight and dietary energy was driven by greater sales from March 2020 to June 2020.

Summary

Apparent consumption

Apparent consumption in this publication measures the amount of food purchased from sales data, but does not measure actual consumption as it does not account for food purchases from fast food outlets, cafes and restaurants, home grown or produced foods, wild harvested foods, or foods not consumed due to waste or storage.

The significant change in consumer behaviour associated with COVID-19 means that the estimates from March 2020 to June 2020 will over represent consumption due to increases in home inventories and households substituting home prepared meals instead of dining out. For more general information see Impact of COVID-19 below and each of the relevant topic sections for the specific impact of the March to June 2020 period on the results. For general information on the scope and methods see Explanatory Notes. 

Impact of COVID-19

  • Following the Australian outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in March 2020, restrictions were progressively implemented by the Australian government on citizens' activities, aiming to limit opportunities for the virus to spread through community transmission.
  • A major behavioural response by Australian householders to the highly uncertain circumstances was an increase in purchasing of household supplies from supermarkets, resulting in a sales spike from early March which peaked in the week beginning 16 March 2020. 
  • Retail sales of food (from Retail Trade, Australia) increased in value by an estimated 24% from February to March 2020, followed by a 17% decline from March to April 2020. Further Retail Trade analysis estimated that the value of sales of non-perishable foods increased by 39% from February to March 2020, while perishable foods increased by 22%. 
  • The greater weight of foods purchased from March 2020 is consistent with results from the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey which showed:
    • 47% of respondents buying extra household supplies in March, which fell to 21% by late April/early May
    • 29% of respondents reporting consuming less take-away and delivered meals in late April/early May
    • 38% reporting more cooking and baking in late April/early May.
  • The large disruption to the usual pattern of consumer behaviour may be expected to be reflected in significant changes in the overall apparent consumption of food and nutrients by Australians.  However, caution is needed in interpreting the impact on the true change in food consumption based on the unprecedented sales spike, because unlike a more typical period where household inventories may be assumed to be held constant, the purchasing in March 2020 likely reflects an increase of home inventories.  In addition, a further distortion impacting the change in apparent consumption may result from households substituting supermarket purchased foods in place of meals from cafes and restaurants.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on apparent consumption by amount, dietary energy and analysis against the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) is discussed in each relevant section below.

Apparent consumption by weight

In 2019–20, an estimated 14.5 million tonnes of foods and non-alcoholic beverages were sold from supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience and specialty food stores, and fresh food markets. This was equivalent to a daily apparent consumption of 1,548 grams per capita in 2019-20 an increase of 2.2% (or 33 grams) on the 2018-19 apparent consumption (1,514 grams).  

These apparent consumption totals however, are expected to be significantly less than the true weight of all foods and beverages consumed because of 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, the apparent consumption amounts do not include foods and beverages sold from cafes and restaurants, including take-away foods, home grown and produced foods or wild harvested foods. 

Over 80% of the total weight of foods and beverages purchased in 2019-20 were contributed by six Major food groups.  In daily per capita terms, these were:

  • Non-alcoholic beverages (349 grams or 22.6% of the total)
  • Milk products (285 grams or 18.4%)
  • Vegetable products (201 grams or 13.0%)
  • Fruit products (148 grams or 9.6%) 
  • Meat and poultry products (143 grams or 9.2%)
  • Cereals and cereal products (e.g. bread, rice, pasta and other grains) (135 grams or 8.7%).

The Major food groups with the greatest increases in apparent consumption between 2018-19 and 2019-20 were:

  • Vegetable products, up 9.1 grams (4.7% increase from 2018-19)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages, up 5.7 grams (1.7% increase from 2018-19) 
  • Cereals and cereal products, up 4.9 grams (3.8% increase from 2018-19).

Only two Major food groups underwent a decline in apparent consumption between 2018-19 and 2019-20: 

  • Fruit products, down 1.2 grams (0.8% decrease from 2018-19)
  • Infant formulae and foods, which fell from 3.6 to 3.0 grams per capita (16.7% decrease).
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Among the Sub-major food groups, the most significant contributors to the total weight of foods and beverages purchased in daily per capita terms were:

  • Dairy milk (190 grams) contributed 12.3% of the total foods and beverages
  • Soft drinks (158 grams) contributed 10.2%
  • Bottled water (100 grams) contributed 6.4%
  • Regular breads and bread rolls (57 grams) contributed 3.7%
  • Fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (54 grams) contributed 3.5%.

The Sub-major food groups with the greatest increase in apparent consumption by weight between 2018-19 and 2019-20 were:

  • Soft drinks, with a daily increase of 5.7 grams (or 3.8%) to 158 grams per capita
  • Flour, rice and other grains, up 4.0 grams (or 13.5%) to 34 grams
  • Potatoes, up 4.0 grams (or 9.5%) to 46 grams.

Small declines were seen in a number of Sub-major food groups, led by:

  • Other fruit (consisting mostly of grapes and melons) had an average daily decrease of 2.2 grams (-6.9%) to 29 grams per capita
  • Bottled water decreased 1.8 grams (-1.8%) to 100 grams per capita
  • Pome fruit (apples and pears) decreased 1.2 gram (-4.5%) to 25 grams per capita.
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Impact of COVID-19 on apparent consumption by weight

  • The daily per capita weight of total foods and beverages sold in March 2020 was 1,855 grams. This was 20% higher (or 308 grams more per capita) than March 2019 (1,547 grams) and 15% higher than December 2018 (which was the next highest month in the 24 months to June 2020).   
  • The increase in the weight of total food and beverage sales in March 2020 from the March 2019 level was driven more by foods (up 24%) than non-alcoholic beverages (up 6.2%). 
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The Major food groups with the largest increases in apparent consumption in March 2020 compared to March 2019 in daily per capita terms were: 

  • Cereals and cereal products, up 64 grams (48% increase from March 2019) 
  • Vegetable products, up 52 grams (27% increase)
  • Milk products, up 34 grams (12% increase)
  • Meat and poultry products, up 30 grams (21% increase)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages, up 23 grams (6.2% increase).
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a. Change is the difference in grams per day in March 2020 from March 2019

The Sub-major food groups contributing most to the March 2020 increase in apparent consumption (compared to March 2019) in daily per capita terms were:

  • Flour, rice and other grains, up 35 grams (123% increase in sales compared to March 2019)
  • Dairy milk, up 27 grams (14% increase)
  • Potatoes, up 18 grams (43% increase)
  • Pasta and noodles, up 15 grams (96% increase)
  • Beef, lamb and pork, up 12 grams (25% increase).
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a. Change is the difference in grams per day in March 2020 from March 2019.

b. Includes onion, garlic, shallots and frozen mixed vegetables.

In addition to the foods in the Sub-major group listed above, large relative (percentage) increases were seen in foods usually purchased in lower quantities.  Although many of these foods contribute significantly less weight than those above, they may be of interest in understanding changes in consumer behaviour throughout the COVID-19 period.

While some foods that had large relative increases in March 2020 compared to March 2019 had a lower apparent consumption in the April to June 2020 period (compared to April to June 2019), others continued to be purchased in higher volumes, although much closer to their 2019 level. For example:

  • Soup, commercially sterile, ready to eat (mostly canned soup) increased by 147% in March 2020 (compared to March 2019), but in April to June 2020, apparent consumption was 13% less than April to June 2019.
  • Mature legume and pulse products (e.g. baked beans) increased 118% in March, but the April to June 2020 apparent consumption was 5.5% less than in April to June 2019.

In contrast, several other foods which had increased by over 40% in March 2020 compared to March 2019 still had increases of greater than 10% in April to June 2020 compared to April to June 2019. These included:

  • Herbs, seasonings and stocks (82% higher in March 2020 than March 2019, and 11% higher in April to June 2020 than April to June 2019)
  • Butters (increased 45% in March 2020 and 16% in April to June 2020)
  • Jam and other sweet spreads (increased 45% and 13% respectively)
  • Potatoes (increased 43% and 14% respectively)
  • Dairy milk substitutes (increased 43% and 15% respectively).
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a. Percent change for each period based on comparison to same month(s) in 2019

Dietary energy

Total dietary energy available from food and non-alcoholic beverage sales in 2019-20 was 9,009 kJ per capita per day, a 3.5% increase from 8,703 kJ in 2018-19.  The Major food groups contributing most to the increase in total dietary energy in 2019-20 were:

  • Cereals and cereal products, up 73 kJ (4.5% increase from 2018-19) to 1,687 kJ per capita 
  • Vegetable products, up 41 kJ (8.8% increase) to 512 kJ  
  • Fats and oils rose 41 kJ (5.7% increase) to 759 kJ 
  • Milk products rose 26 kJ (2.1% increase) to 1,271 kJ
  • Sugar products rose 18 kJ (6.0% increase) to 323 kJ.

Only two Major food groups contributed less energy in 2019-20 than 2018-19 on a daily per capita basis:

  • Infant formulae and foods fell 1.7 kJ (-15.3%) to  9.4 kJ
  • Fruit products fell slightly 0.4 kJ (-0.1%) to 392 kJ.
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Within the Sub-major food groups, the greatest daily energy per capita increases from 2018-19 to 2019-20 were from:

  • Flour, rice and other grains, which rose by 59 kJ (13.5%) to 494 kJ
  • Plant oils, which rose by 32 kJ (8.0%) to 431 kJ 
  • Potatoes, which rose 28 kJ (14.0%) to 224 kJ 
  • Pasta and noodles, which rose 20 kJ (9.5%) to 229 kJ 
  • Cheese, which rose by 14 kJ (4.4%) to 322 kJ.
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Despite the overall increase in energy available, a number of Sub-major food groups provided less energy in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19, with the greatest daily per capita declines in:

  • Regular bread and bread rolls, which fell 8.7 kJ (-1.5%) to 579 kJ
  • Other fruit (grapes and melons), which fell 4.1 kJ (-7.2%) to 53 kJ
  • Pome fruit (apples and pears), which fell 2.7 kJ (-4.3%) to 59 kJ
  • Savoury biscuits, which fell 2.7 kJ (-1.6%) to 166 kJ.

Impact of COVID-19 on dietary energy

  • The daily dietary energy available per capita from total foods and beverages sold in March 2020 was 11,403 kJ, an increase of 2,746 kJ (32%) on March 2019.
  • Although the daily average across April, May and June 2020 was down 2,262 kJ (-20%) from the March 2020 peak, the average of these three months was 9,141 kJ per capita, which was 4.6% higher than for the same period in 2019. 
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The Major food groups contributing most to the increase in daily energy available in March 2020 compared to March 2019 were:

  • Cereals and cereal products, up 903 kJ to 2,534 kJ per capita (or 55% increase) accounting for one-third of the total energy increase  
  • Fats and oils increased by 379 kJ to 1,099 kJ (53% rise)  
  • Meat and poultry products increased by 235 kJ to 1,317 kJ (22% rise)
  • Milk based products, up 193 kJ to 1,446 kJ (15% rise)
  • Cereal-based products, up 180 kJ to 1,040 kJ (21% rise).
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The Sub-major food groups contributing most to the increase in energy available in March 2020 compared to March 2019 were:

  • Flour, rice and other grains, which more than doubled (124%) from 416 kJ to 933 kJ per capita per day
  • Plant oils, which increased from 409 kJ to 682 kJ (up 67%)
  • Pasta and noodles doubled (102%) from 213 kJ to 430 kJ
  • Sugar, honey and syrups rose from 215 kJ to 362 kJ (up 69%)
  • Potatoes rose from 194 kJ to 294 kJ (up 51%) 
  • Dairy milk rose from 507 kJ to 606 kJ (up 20%).
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Macronutrient contribution to total dietary energy available

Dietary energy from foods is provided by the macronutrient constituents which include carbohydrate, protein, fat, dietary fibre and alcohol. 

The relative contribution of the macronutrients to available dietary energy in 2019-20 comprised: 

  • Carbohydrate (43.9%)
  • Total Fat (39.0%)
  • Protein (15.2%)
  • Dietary fibre (1.9%)
  • Alcohol (0%) (Note, alcoholic beverages are not in scope for this data. See paragraph 13 of Explanatory Notes). 

These values were largely similar to those measured in 2018-19, with contribution from protein decreasing slightly (-0.1 percentage points) and carbohydrate increasing slightly (0.1 percentage points). 

An imbalance among the relative proportions of the macronutrients is considered a risk factor for chronic disease and is assessed against recommendations known as Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR). Compared with the AMDRs, the proportion of energy available from:

  • Total fat in 2019-20 was four percentage points higher than the upper limit (39.0% compared with the 35% maximum)
  • Carbohydrate was just below the lower limit (43.9% compared with the 45% minimum) 
  • Protein was within the AMDR, but at the lower end of the range (15.2% compared with the 15% minimum)
  • The contribution of alcohol sales to total energy available for consumption is not taken into account in this publication, so these results are not directly comparable to similar data from national nutrition surveys. 

 

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Table 1: Proportion of total energy available from macronutrients and Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges(a)
MacronutrientApparent consumption proportion (%)Recommended range(a) (%)
 2018-192019-20 
Protein15.315.215-25
Carbohydrate43.843.945-65
Total fat39.039.020-35

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

 

 

 

 

Impact of COVID-19 on macronutrient contribution to total dietary energy available

The total dietary energy available per capita from each of the primary macronutrients had significant increases in March 2020. Compared to March 2019:

  • Carbohydrate increased by 1,332 kJ to 5,134kJ (or 35%)
  • Total fat, up by 984 kJ to 4,337 kJ (29%)
  • Protein, up by 367 kJ to 1,700 kJ (28%)
  • Dietary fibre, up by 53 kJ to 224 kJ (31%).
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The available energy provided by the macronutrients in March 2020 produced only a marginal shift in the respective proportions of total energy compared to the proportions in March 2019:

  • Carbohydrate was 45.0% up from 43.9% 
  • Total fat was 38.0% down from 38.7% 
  • Protein was 14.9% down from 15.4% 
  • Dietary fibre was unchanged at 2.0%.

By April to June 2020, when the average per capita dietary energy was still 4.6% higher than for April to June 2019, the macronutrient contributions to total energy available had shifted in the opposite direction with: 

  • Carbohydrate at 43.2% down from 43.8% 
  • Total fat at 39.6% up from 39.0% 
  • Protein was 15.2% down slightly from 15.3%
  • Dietary fibre was similar (1.9%).

The slightly higher fat/lower carbohydrate proportions primarily result from sales of vegetable oils remaining higher post-March 2020 than the pre-COVID-19 period.  

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Australian Dietary Guidelines

The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) recommend that 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 include minimum recommended daily serves of the five food groups to be consumed (by age and sex groups) to satisfy nutrient requirements and minimise the risk of diet-related chronic disease. Because the ADG also recommend limiting consumption of discretionary foods (i.e. those containing relatively higher amounts of saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol), the ADG recommended daily serves are only compared to the apparent consumption of non-discretionary foods for each of the five food groups.

The daily serves per capita available from food sales were lower than the average recommendations in the ADG for each of the five food groups for 2019-20 and 2018-19.

Compared to the average recommended serves per day, the apparent daily consumption per capita by Australians in 2019-20 was: 

  • 4.0 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).

Available serves of all of the food groups increased compared to 2018-19 values except for fruit, which decreased slightly from 1.42 to 1.41 serves. The largest increase was for grains and cereals (3.87 to 4.04 serves).

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a. Includes non-discretionary foods only.
b. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
c. Includes fruit juice.
d. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
e. Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nut and seeds and legumes/beans.

Impact of COVID-19 on serves of ADG food groups

Compared to March 2019, the March 2020 daily serves of non-discretionary food groups per capita available for consumption increased for:

  • Grains and cereals from 3.9 to 6.0 serves (54%)
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans from 2.3 to 3.1 serves (33%)
  • Fruit, 1.5 to 1.6 serves (6%)
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, 1.6 to 1.9 serves (20%)
  • Lean meats and alternatives, 1.8 to 2.3 serves (27%).
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(a) Includes non-discretionary foods only.
(b) Vegetables and legumes/beans.
(c) Includes fruit juice.
(d) Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
(e) Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nut and seeds and legumes/beans.

Discretionary foods

Over one-third (38.1%) of the dietary energy from the food and non-alcoholic beverage sales in 2019-20 was derived from discretionary foods. This was a similar proportion to that measured in 2018-19. However, the total energy available from discretionary foods increased from 3,310 kJ in 2018-19 to 3,429 kJ in 2019-20. Discretionary foods (such as biscuits, confectionery, pastries, processed meats, salty snack foods and sugar-sweetened beverages) are discouraged in the ADG because they are considered a poor source of nutrients and their energy density can displace more nutritious food choices. 

A majority of the energy available from discretionary foods in 2019-20 (72%) was contributed by six Major food groups led by: 

  • Cereal based products (21.0%)
  • Confectionery (15.1%) 
  • Sugar products (9.4%) 
  • Meat and poultry products (9.0%)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages (8.7%)
  • Snack foods (8.3%).

The biggest change in proportional contribution to discretionary energy was that contributed by meat and poultry products, which decreased from 9.3% in 2018-19 to 9.0% on 2019-20.

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

  • Chocolate (10.1%)
  • Sweet biscuits (8.0%)
  • Sugar, honey and syrups (7.0%)
  • Pastries (5.1%)
  • Processed meat (4.9%)
  • Soft drinks (4.5%)
  • Potato snacks (4.5%).
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Impact of COVID-19 on purchases of discretionary foods

The per capita energy available from discretionary foods increased by 25% in March 2020 compared to March 2019. However, this increase was exceeded by a 36% rise in energy per capita from non-discretionary foods which led to the March 2020 proportion of discretionary energy (35.2%) being lower than all other months between July 2018 to June 2020, which ranged between 36.2% to 41.8%.

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Despite the overall decline in the proportion of discretionary energy available in March 2020 compared to March 2019, there were a number of discretionary foods for which the available energy increased in March 2020. The daily energy available from:

  • Sugar, honey and syrups increased by 147 kJ (or 69%) to 362 kJ per capita 
  • Pastries (including plain pastry and products such as Danishes and spring rolls) rose by 48 kJ (31%) to 206 kJ
  • Butters rose by 43 kJ (43%) to 143 kJ
  • Processed meats rose by 32 kJ to 193 kJ (20%).

A number of snack foods also contributed to the rise in discretionary energy in March 2020 compared to March 2019. The daily energy available from:

  • Chocolate rose by 86 kJ (28%) to 395 kJ per capita
  • Sweet biscuits rose by 51 kJ (21%) to 298 kJ
  • Savoury biscuits rose by 32 kJ (18%) to 207 kJ 
  • Potato snacks rose 27 kJ (19%) to 166 kJ 
  • Corn snacks rose 12 kJ (18%) to 80 kJ.
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Basic food groups

In addition to assessing apparent consumption amounts against the numbers of serves recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines (which emphasises the non-discretionary choices), the ADG database can also be used to provide a summary view of the amounts of basic food groups making up all apparent consumption (i.e. including both the non-discretionary and discretionary foods).

By weight, the daily apparent consumption per capita of basic food groups from sales of all food and beverages in 2019-20 consisted of:

  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives (275 grams)
  • Grains and cereals (255 grams) 
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans (230 grams) 
  • Fruit (201 grams including fruit juice, 153 grams excluding fruit juice) 
  • Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (172 grams).
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a. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
b. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
c. Includes fruit juice.
d. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nut and seeds and legumes/beans.

  • The grains and cereals available for consumption increased from 244 grams in 2018-19 to 255 grams in 2019-20 almost entirely (99%) due to increased purchasing of rice and flour.
  • Apart from red meat which had a small decline (0.4 grams per capita), all other components of the Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans group increased. Legumes as a meat alternative had the largest increase (up 1.8 grams, or 14%).
  • Starchy vegetables had the largest increase among the vegetables group (4.8 grams), followed by other vegetables (3.4 grams).

By serves (where a serve is equivalent to the serving sizes defined in the 2013 ADG), the daily apparent consumption of basic food groups per capita in 2019-20 consisted of:

  • Grains and cereals (5.2 serves)
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans (3.0 serves)
  • Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (2.4 serves)
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives (1.9 serves)
  • Fruit (1.5 serves including juice, 1.1 serves excluding juice).
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a. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
b. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans.
c. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
d. Includes fruit juice.

Contributing food types within basic food groups

Each food group may be further broken down into sub-groupings defined in the ADG. 

Within grains and cereals the leading contributors to the serves available of this group were: 

  • Breads (34.6%)
  • Flour (flour includes flour in baked goods other than bread such as pastry, cakes and biscuits) (26.6%)
  • Grains (mainly rice, but also couscous, quinoa, barley and polenta) (25.6%).

A majority (73%) of the contributing grains and cereals were categorised as refined (lower fibre) rather than wholemeal varieties. The number of serves available of these refined grains increased from 3.5 serves in 2018-19 to 3.7 serves in 2019-20.

Among vegetables and legumes/beans the leading sub-groups contributing to this food group in 2019-20 were:

  • Other vegetables (main contributors to this category were tomato/tomato products, onion, cucumber, zucchini and mushroom) (40.9%)
  • Starchy vegetables (majority was from potatoes) (27.8%) 
  • Green and brassica vegetables (broccoli, lettuce, spinach etc.) (15.5%) 
  • Orange vegetables (9.8%).

The majority of fruit serves was from fresh or canned sources (64.2%), with fruit juice contributing 23.9% and dried fruit 12.0%. 

Within the milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives group, the contributing proportions to the serves available of this group in 2019-20 were: 

  • Milk (61.3%) 
  • Cheese (32.9%)
  • Yoghurt (5.9%).

Regular fat milk made up 72.3% of all milk and non-dairy milks made up less than 2% of all milk. 

In the meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans group the major contributions to this group in 2019-20 were from:

  • Red meat (44.5%)
  • Poultry (24.0%)
  • Nuts and seeds (14.8%)
  • Eggs (6.7%).
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Just over two-thirds (67.3%) of all meat (red meat and poultry) was classified as lean meat, while just over three-quarters (76.6%) was unprocessed. 

Non-alcoholic beverages

The 2013 ADG recommend limiting the intake of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, and energy and sports drinks, and advises to "drink plenty of water". However, as many Australians drink beverages made from tap water (plain water, tea and coffee) and may add tap water to cordials to make them ready to drink, the amount represented from sales of foods will significantly underestimate the total water component of Australian diets. Nevertheless, the relative volumes and amounts of sugar from the various beverage types included in this analysis provide an indication of the non-alcoholic beverage choices made by consumers. 

The average daily apparent consumption of selected non-alcoholic beverages in 2019-20 was 328 mL per capita, up from 323 mL in 2018-19. The greatest volumes were from:

  • Soft drinks (154 mL up from 148 mL in 2018-19)
  • Bottled water (100 mL down from 101 mL)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices (35 mL up from 34 mL) 
  • Fruit and vegetable drinks (17 mL steady from 2018-19).
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Sugar-sweetened and intense-sweetened beverages

Over one-third (37.2%) of soft drinks purchased were of the intense-sweetened (sugar-free) variety. A further breakdown showed that while around one-half (54.0%) of cola soft drinks were intense-sweetened, just 15.5% of the non-cola soft drinks were sugar-free. 

Overall, the proportion of soft drinks that were intense-sweetened (37.2%) was significantly higher than the sugar-free varieties of:

  • Cordials (19.1%) 
  • Energy drinks (14.0%)
  • Electrolyte drinks (10.0%).

Between 2018-19 and 2019-20 the proportion of:

  • Total selected non-alcoholic beverages that were intense-sweetened increased from 17.3% to 18.5% 
  • Soft drinks that were intense-sweetened increased from 35.6% to 37.2% 
  • Cordials that were intense-sweetened increased from 17.2% to 19.1% 
  • Electrolyte drinks that were intense-sweetened was similar (10.1% and 10.0%) 
  • Energy drinks that were intense-sweetened decreased marginally (from 14.5% to 14.0%). 
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Impact of COVID-19 on purchases of selected non-alcoholic beverages

There was an average daily volume of 314 mL per capita of selected non-alcoholic beverages purchased in the period March to June 2020. This was 3.1% higher than the March to June 2019 level (304 mL). However, there was a marked divergence in the two major beverage types: 

  • Bottled water fell by an average 5 mL per capita (-4.9%) between March to June 2019 to March to June 2020
  • Soft drinks rose by an average 11 mL per capita (7.5%).

Of the average 11 mL per capita increase in soft drinks in March to June 2020, 66% was from intense-sweetened varieties. 

Several other beverages with smaller overall daily volumes also had average daily increases from March to June 2020 compared to March to June 2020 including: 

  • Fruit juices, which rose 2 mL per capita (4.9%) 
  • Energy drinks, which rose 1 mL per capita (14%) 
  • Cordials, which rose 1 mL (15%).
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Added and free sugars

Added sugars are defined as the sugars added to foods during processing or preparation, while free sugars includes added sugars plus the sugar naturally present in fruit juices and honey. In 2019-20 there was:  

  • 65 grams of added sugars available for consumption per capita per day (up from 63 grams in 2018-19)
  • 70 grams of free sugars available per capita per day (up from 68 grams in 2018-19).

Added sugars contributed 11.5% of total dietary energy available while free sugars contributed 12.4%. This proportion exceeds the World Health Organisation's recommendation that free sugars make up less than 10% of dietary energy. 

Sources of added sugars and free sugars

Discretionary foods were the source of 92.4% of added sugars and 88.7% of free sugars in 2019-20.

The selected non-alcoholic beverages group accounted for 301 kJ per capita per day, which was just 3.3% of total dietary energy available. However, the non-alcoholic beverages were the source of around one-quarter of the total available added sugars (23.2%) and free sugars (25.7%) from all foods and non-alcoholic beverages. 

The mean daily consumption of added sugars and free sugars from the non-alcoholic beverages was 15 grams and 18 grams per capita respectively. The additional amount of free sugars comes from the naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (which is not defined as an added sugar).

Within the Sub-major food groups, those contributing the greatest proportions of apparent consumption of added sugars and free sugars were:

  • Sugar, honey and syrups (20.9% added and 21.2% free sugars)
  • Soft drinks (14.9% and 13.8%)
  • Chocolate (10.9% and 10.2%)
  • Other confectionery (6.3% and 5.9%)
  • Sweet biscuits (6.3% and 5.8%)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (2.2% and 6.1%).

Between 2018-19 and 2019-20, Sugar, honey and syrups had the largest increase among the Sub-major food groups as a proportion of the total amounts of both added sugars (up from 20.4% to 20.9%) and free sugars (up from 20.8% to 21.2%).

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Saturated fat

The average daily per capita apparent consumption of saturated fat was 37 grams. This provided 1,363 kJ or 15.1% of all dietary energy available. This amount exceeds the recommendation in the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand (NRVs) that the combined energy from saturated fat and trans fatty acids together make up less than 10% of dietary energy. Trans fatty acids, although chemically different from saturated fat are also associated with increased risk of chronic disease. While the contribution of trans fatty acids to total dietary energy available was relatively low (providing 0.7% of dietary energy), their presence gives a combined total of 15.8% of available dietary energy coming from saturated fat and trans fatty acids.

The Major food groups contributing most to total saturated fat apparent consumption were:

  • Milk products (31.8%) 
  • Meat and poultry (15.7%) 
  • Fats and oils (14.7%) 
  • Cereal based products (e.g. biscuits, cakes, pastries, mixed savoury dishes) (11.9%).

The contribution of meat and poultry products to saturated fat consumption decreased from 16.1% in 2018-19 to 15.7% in 2019-20. 

By Sub-major groups, the leading contributors were: 

  • Cheese (11.0%)
  • Dairy milk (9.5%)
  • Chocolate (7.6%)
  • Beef, lamb and pork (5.8%)
  • Butters (5.4%)
  • Cream (4.6%).
     
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Sodium

The daily apparent consumption of sodium was 3,161 mg per capita, which is almost 1.6 times the NRV's Suggested Dietary Target of 2,000 mg per capita. Apparent consumption in 2020 had increased from 2,999 mg in 2018-19. Salt is the main source of sodium in the diet, either from processed foods or added in cooking or at the table. 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 with the greatest contribution to apparent consumption of sodium in 2019-20 were:

  • Miscellaneous category (which includes cooking and baking ingredients such as seasonings, salt and baking soda) (26.6% of total sodium, up from 24.8% in 2018-19)
  • Meat and poultry (15.2% of total sodium) 
  • Cereals and cereal products (13.9%)
  • Savoury sauces and condiments (10.2%).

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

  • Herbs, spices and seasonings (includes salt, stock and stock powders) (22.0%, up from 20.4% in 2018-19)
  • Regular breads and bread rolls (8.4%)
  • Gravies and savoury sauces (includes sauces such as tomato, barbecue, soy, plus marinades and pasta sauces) (8.0%)
  • Processed meat (7.5%, down from 8.0% in 2018-19)
  • Cheese (5.2%).
     
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History of changes

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29/06/2020 - The addition of 'Apparent consumption' to the Glossary. The modification of paragraph 3 in the Methodology to include 'previous' when referring to the previous ABS Apparent Consumption of Foodstuffs collection. And the modification of ml to mL in the Methodology.

22/12/2020 - Data table 7.1 (Carbohydrate – mean daily grams per capita and proportion available from selected AUSNUT food groupings) has been updated with the correct data for this table. Table 7.1 was erroneously published on 11 December 2020 as a duplicate of Table 8.1 (Total fat – mean daily grams per capita and proportion available from selected AUSNUT food groupings). 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4316.0.