Aussies eating less fruit and vegetables, drinking less milk due to rising checkout prices

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Aussies are eating less fruit and vegetables and consuming less milk in a surprising twist in the nation’s dietary trends, which has been attributed to rising prices at the checkout.

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed Aussies bought about 3.9 per cent less food in 2022-23 than the previous year, marking a drop of 63g or 337kj a day.

Vegetables had the largest drop of 14g per person per day, followed by fruit, which was down to 12g per person per day.

The consumption of milk products was also down 11g and non-alcoholic beverages were down 9g.

“Each person had 186g of vegetables a day in 2022-23, down from 200g a day in 2021-22,” ABS health statistics spokesman Paul Atyeo said.

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

The data, released on Friday, attributed the lower estimates to recent food price inflation.

In the two years to June 2023, the cumulative Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase for food and non-alcoholic beverages was 13.9 per cent, compared to a 4.9 per cent increase over the prior three years.

“The recent price increases in food, along with a general increase in all consumer prices is consistent with a lower volume of food being purchased despite the value of food retail turnover in 2022-23 exceeding previous years,” the ABS’ report states.

While some food consumptions dropped, Australians are still having more of other food groups compared to five years ago.

Consumption of potato chips is up 16 per cent, while the rate of chocolate consumption is up 10 per cent.

There was also a 9 per cent rise in the consumption of cereal and convenience meals – foods such as pizza, sushi and pasta dishes including lasagne, wraps and pasta salad.

People are also enjoying fewer sugar-sweetened drinks, with the number falling from a peak of 145mL per person per day in 2020-21 to 135mL over 2022-23.