The data that underpins the experimental estimates are underpinned by long standing arrangements with data providers. The cost of collection for the scanner data is much lower compared to survey collections, as automated collection processes are in place, as opposed to phone or survey form collections. Appropriate confidentiality rules have been applied to the scanner data to protect the information of all businesses involved. All information is handled in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988.
The experimental food estimates have advantages in terms of relevance for users due to the ability to target food consumption growth and its drivers more directly in the quarterly HFCE results. Furthermore, the scope of the experimental estimates more closely aligns with the conceptual framework of the Australian National Accounts as outlined in the Australian System of National Accounts.
This improvement addresses a current deficiency in the estimation of household food consumption in the National Accounts and will ultimately result in more accurate estimates of GDP. The enhanced timeliness, analytical and interrogative power of these estimates will also work to improve the relevance of the estimates for users who will have better quality information, and more timely results for household consumption.
The timeliness of the experimental estimates is contingent on the weekly submission of results from the providers of scanner data. These estimates reduce the reliance on infrequent survey collections, thus significantly improving the timeliness of results for household consumption.
Currently, official estimates for Food consumption within the HFCE is predominately compiled using aggregated data, with various adjustments applied to account for scope differences. The experimental estimates however utilise data within a methodology that is more aligned to the conceptual framework of the Australian National Accounts. As a result, the experimental estimates are a more accurate estimate of household food consumption.
Improvements to the estimates are observable in the aggregated results, and in dis-aggregated results, as the methodology allows for the measurement of compositional change at the product level. Additionally, the ability to align frequent and high-quality price indexes to that of the products within HFCE, allows for low levels of deflation and thus, more accurate volume estimation.
The estimates were produced over a period of 5 years, which is long enough to compare with similar statistical products within the ABS. When comparing the estimates to that of existing measures of food (such as the HFCE publication, and Retail Trade), the quarterly movements of the experimental estimates are generally aligned, except in 2020 where substantial changes in food consumption due to product compositional change were observed.
The experimental food estimates have been designed to align with the scope and coverage of HFCE outlined in the conceptual framework of the Australian National Accounts.
Additionally, the higher level of detail present within the estimates of lower level product categories allows for the interrogation of drivers of growth for food consumption in each quarter. This will enable higher quality statistical reporting, which will improve the interpretability and understanding of changes in food consumption among users.