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Australian Bureau of Statistics reports decrease in consumption of fruits and vegetables among Australians

Chocolate consumption has increased in the past five years.

According to the latest findings from the national statistical agency, food and vegetable consumption in Australia has decreased. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports a decline across all major food groups, with vegetables showing the largest drop.

This news comes as Australians face higher inflation, with CPI rising to 6 percent in the 12 months leading up to June 2023.

In the 2023 financial year, vegetable consumption fell by 14 grams per person, while fruit decreased by 12 grams, milk products by 11 grams, and non-alcoholic beverages by 9 grams.

Overall, Australians purchased 3.9 percent less food in 2022-2023 compared to the previous year, amounting to a reduction of 63 grams per day.

However, bottled water consumption increased by 1.6 percent, energy and sports drinks rose by 3.3 percent, and chicken dishes like nuggets saw a 2.6 percent jump.

ABS health statistics spokesperson Paul Atyeo mentioned that each person consumed 186 grams of vegetables per day in the 2022-2023 period, down from 200 grams between 2021-2022.

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“We also went from eating 150 grams of fruit to 138 grams a day during 2022-23, while milk products fell from 278 to 267 grams,” Mr. Atyeo said.

“Many of the foods that dropped during 2022-23 are part of longer-term trends. We’re consuming between 5 and 8 percent less cow’s milk, bread, and fruit juice per person compared to 2018-19.”

Over the past five years, chocolate consumption has increased by 10 percent, potato chips by 16 percent, and cereals and convenience meal consumption by 9 percent.

However, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has decreased from 145 milliliters (mL) per day in 2020-2021 to 134 mL in 2022-2023 per person.

In total, 14.8 million tonnes of food and non-alcoholic beverages were sold in 2022-2023, which is 1.9 percent less than in 2021-2022.

“The overall lower estimates of consumption in 2022-23 compared with previous years may be linked to recent food price inflation,” the ABS noted.

“In the two years leading up to June 2023, the cumulative Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase for food and non-alcoholic beverages was 13.9 percent, compared to a 4.9 percent increase in the three years prior (2018-19 to 2020-21).”

‘Obesity Crisis’ Concern

Meanwhile, the Food for Health Alliance has expressed concerns about the “growing obesity crisis” in Australia.

The alliance highlighted that unhealthy beverages account for one-third of the daily energy intake of Australians, and over 90 percent do not consume enough vegetables and fruits.

Executive General Manager Jane Martin mentioned that Australia lags behind the rest of the world in improving diets and combating obesity.

“All Australians aspire to good health, but the food environment we’re surrounded by promotes heavily, easily accessible, and cheap ultra-processed foods,” Ms. Martin stated.
She also pointed out that two-thirds of adults and more than one-quarter of children are above a healthy weight.

Food Prices Rising

Inflation in Australia rose by 3.4 percent in the 12 months leading up to February 2024, according to an ABS release on March 27.

Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 3.6 percent, while alcohol and tobacco costs rose by 6.1 percent.

Meat and seafood prices decreased by 2 percent, and fruit and vegetable costs lowered by 0.5 percent.

Conversely, the price of dining out and takeaway foods rose by 5.4 percent, and bread and cereal products increased by 7 percent.

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