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Aussies changing food preferences

cafeAustralians are more likely to go to a café for coffee or tea than to eat out at a fast-food place, and having a meal at the pub is now vastly more popular than getting a pizza home-delivered. Meanwhile, low-fat diets are falling out of favour, fewer people are preoccupied with their cholesterol levels, and more are opting to buy the same food week in, week out. The past decade has seen some marked changes in Australians’ dining and dietary habits, Roy Morgan research has found.

“The fact that more Australians are dining out at eateries of various descriptions than they were 10 years ago speaks volumes about our ongoing obsession with food and gourmet culture. With TV cooking shows and celebrity chefs as popular as ever, it’s almost a matter of pride for many people to visit the latest restaurant or cafe before their friends: home-delivered pizza just won’t cut it anymore!” Norman Morris, industry communications director at Roy Morgan Research said.

“Connected to this is the inexorable rise of cafe society. Visiting cafes, whether for a drink or a meal (or both) is booming, and shows no sign of slowing even as heading to the pub for a drink has lost ground. While it’s tempting to assume this is all part of a move towards healthier living, Roy Morgan data shows a decline in overall concern about cholesterol, low-fat diets and calcium.”

One of the most striking trends over the last 10 years has been the more widespread penchant for going to cafes. Back in 2006, 51.1% of Aussies aged 14+ visited a cafe for coffee or tea at least once in an average three months. Since then this has risen to 58.9%. Furthermore, 48.2% now go to a cafe for a snack or meal at least once per quarter, a substantial increase on 40.8% in 2006.

Whereas the proportion of Aussies going to the pub solely for a drink has dropped from 27.2% to 23.2%, heading there for a meal is another matter. In any given three-month period during 2016, nearly 45% ate at the pub at least once (up from 38.8%), which means that it is now more popular than ordering a home-delivered pizza (which plummeted from 43.9% to 31.9%).

Ordering other home-delivered food saw a modest increase (from 12.5% to 14.2%), as eating at a fast food place and grabbing fast food to take away (from 46.6% to 48.2%, and 57.1% to 58.2% respectively).

Though fewer Aussies are going to BYO restaurants (23.6%) than they were in 2006 (25%), dining at licensed restaurants has become considerably more popular (54.7%, up from 50.6%). Incidentally, the proportion of Aussies who agree that ‘If I could afford to eat out every night I would’ has crept up from 19.9% to 23.1% over the last decade.

“This long-term analysis of Australians’ changing attitudes to food and diet, as well as shifting trends in where they dine, is a timely reminder for the hospitality industry, as well as for food brands and retailers, that their market cannot be taken for granted. Of course, everyone needs to eat, but the food they choose and where they choose to consume it is not a foregone conclusion,” said Morris.

But a growing desire for the financial freedom to eat out every night is just one attitudinal shift related to food and/or diet that has occurred over the last decade. Almost three quarters of the population (72.4%) now say they enjoy food from all over the world (up from 65.5% in 2006), while 57.3% report buying much more fresh or chilled foods than they used to (up from 53.1%).

Food without additives in it has become increasingly popular (last year, 49.9% of Aussies made an effort to buy it, compared with 46.0% in 2006). Buying the same food each week is at 36.5%, up from 28.7%.

A preference for taste over ingredients, and a tendency to snack throughout the day, are also among the last decade’s key food-related trends. Intriguingly, health-oriented dietary concerns such as getting enough calcium, staying on top of one’s cholesterol levels, and following a low-fat diet, have all slipped.

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