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
- 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.