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Covid-19 has changed the eating habits of Australians

The advent of the coronavirus outbreak has caused a marked shift in the eating habits of Australian consumers.

With less convenient access to fast food and takeaways, a rise in home-prepared meals has made a healthy impact on the Aussie diet—a positive trend offset by the purchase of cheaper grocery items in response to falling incomes, and an uptick in alcohol and preserved food consumption brought about by the low mood of life under lockdown.

“The stress of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a rise in demand for snacks and preserved foods,” said IbisWorld senior industry analyst Liam Harrison. “Health consciousness has taken a back seat for some consumers with regards to regular diet and exercise, as lockdown restrictions have thrown their regular schedule into disarray.” 

Australians are consuming 50 per cent above the daily recommended intake of sodium and saturated fat, while around a third of those surveyed in a June CSIRO study report an increase in junk food and snacks. Roughly 40 per cent of Australians are reducing regular exercise and gaining weight. Obesity among adults nationwide is expected to rise from 69 per cent to 70.3 per cent in the coming year, cresting 75 per cent by 2025.

Supermarkets and grocery stores have seen a 4.6-per-cent rise in business thanks to the increase in home cooking, with that figure expected to rise at least another 0.5 per cent next year. Restaurant revenue has simultaneously plummeted 25.1 per cent over the previous year.

The sale of soft drinks has dropped during the coronavirus period reflecting a decline in restaurant dining, where sugary beverages are popularly ordered with meals. The soft drink and prepackaged-food wholesaling industry contracted by 11 per cent since last year, potentially indicating a permanent shift in consumer habit.

Meanwhile, the beer and spirit manufacturing industries have a somewhat brighter outlook as consumer sentiment is likely to remain subdued.

“The research indicates that women have increased their alcohol consumption compared with men, particularly those with child caring responsibilities,” said Harrison. “For males, the greatest contributor to increased alcohol consumption has been the loss of employment or reduced work hours.”

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