How we buy food: interesting facts

Magazine Illustration of Husband Kissing Wife in Kitchen (source)
As you know I am very interested in food. Not only do I like to eat food (don't we all), but I love home cooking! But being a statistician, I also love numbers (not quite as much as food) - but when I can combine the two, its fascinating. Here are some statistics that are all about food that I think you might find very interesting. 

Australian's spend...
  • In 2009–10, Australian households spent an average of $237 a week on food and beverages ($474 a fortnight).*  
  • About $63 a week was spent on food prepared outside the home (restaurants and takeaways), and $32 a week on alcoholic drinks. Meat, fish and seafood collectively accounted for $30 a week on average.
Of that $237 per week, most of it appears to go on restaurants and alcohol, not much on anything healthy!   If people went back to basics (more fruit and veg and less take-ways), they could probably save quite a bit each week on their household expenditure. Since we cut out buying processes foods I have noticed a reduction in the shopping bill.  Processed foods is quite expensive.  How does this match your grocery shopping?  We hardly every eat out or buy take-ways so very little goes in that area for us. 
Australian's buy...
  • Australians buy a wide range of food products. In 2010, more than 55,000 food items were available in supermarkets. 
Most are heavily processed and I wonder how much we really need of the 55,000 products - I find now, since I reduced the amount of processed  foods I buy, I don't go down most of the aisles in the supermarket. 
  • Between 2009 and 2011, the top five food categories sold (excluding fresh fruit and vegetables) were:
    • dairy foods (such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter)
    • cold beverages (such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and mineral waters)
    • frozen foods
    • confectionery (lollies and sweets)
    • bakery items (such as bread).
Australian's cook...
  • Australians generally prepare and eat their food at home. In 2009, most Australians (78%) reported eating a home-cooked meal around 5–6 nights a week. Females were more likely than males to report preparing the evening meal themselves (84% compared with 62%).
  • Takeaway was the next most popular option for evening meals (9%), followed by eating at a restaurant (8%), and home delivery (5%). Males were more likely than females to report eating out at restaurants, eating takeaway and eating home delivered food.

Interesting!  As I mentioned early, with a simple move away from processed foods, I am now spending less each week on food - I'm not trying to be frugal at all, it just happened. A big basket of fruit and veg costs less than a similar basket of tinned and packaged food and the latter doesn't last as long.  Even when I add some organic items, it is still coming out cheaper (I don't buy organic meat at this stage as it is very expensive). 

Two of my work colleagues are also reducing the amount of canned/processed food items they buy and they have noticed the same thing as I have, so it isn't just me.

* The Australian and US dollar are at parity 

Source of data: The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare "Australia's Food and Nutrition report", 2012


  1. Interesting I agree with you about the processed foods in our woolworth shop if you stick to the outer and down the back areas you avoid all the canned packaged processed goods as they keep them in the middle, less time in the shop and much cheaper.

  2. The stats are interesting. Our food bill seems to rising simply because the children are all growing and consuming more and more. We also eat a lot of fresh fruit and veg. and we like our meat. I try to cook most things from scratch but we keep some ready made sauces etc for time sake. I love food, too, numbers, not so much :-)

  3. Very interesting post! We're cutting out the processed foods, too - trying to make half of our meal vegetables, and eating fruit, veg and nuts for snacks instead of sugary snacks. We are buying organic meat now, but can't find organic vegetables anywhere locally. With the meat, we try to get it on special (Woolworths is best for organic meats) and buy in bulk, also finding that buying organic chicken is only possible by buying whole chickens - and that is not much more expensive than chicken breast ($10.90/kg for whole organic chicken), and a whole chicken lasts us multiple meals if I stretch it. We no longer/rarely eat meats we can't buy organic. It has reduced our variety of meat, but that is quite do-able - through most of history people have had a much smaller variety of foods than what people enjoy today in "western" culture at least. :)
    The closest place for us to buy organic vegies and fruit is 30 minutes drive in a direction we only go once in a blue moon, and even then they don't have huge variety. This leaves us in a conundrum - do we drive that far JUST to get fruit and veg that is going to be way more pricey without adding the fuel expense? So far we just try to buy fruit and veg from the supermarkets that is produced in Australia.
    You mentioned garlic recently too - and how it needs to be Australian grown to be any good, but I haven't been able to find Australian garlic ANYWHERE - even the local fruit market sells imported Mexican garlic! :(

  4. Clara - My local Woolies and Coles both sell a small range of organic vegetables, Coles has the best range and the prices aren't too bad. It appears that Marco is supplying most of the veg selection. I do buy some organic meat - Costco has some very nice beef mince that I purchase and chicken is another I get. But as DH likes things like lamb shanks I do get those that aren't organic.

    As to garlic, the only place you will find it is at local markets e.g. farmer markets. All garlic is produced at the same time, perhaps local farmers are running short of their local garlic and markets can no longer get any? I will have to wait 6 months for mine to be ready and once I have my own I can keep using it to grow more. Once you are settled you will be able to grow your own as well.

    You are quite right - it is going back to the cooking of our ancestries when they didn't pop into the supermarket to buy stuff wrapped in plastic. Regardless, if you look in those older cookbooks you can see they ate lots of variety and not really short of anything.


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