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Latest release

Apparent Consumption of Selected Foodstuffs, Australia

Provides experimental estimates of apparent consumption per capita of selected foods based on sales of products in Australia

Reference period
2018 - 2019
Released
26/06/2020
Next release 11/12/2020
First release

Key statistics

  • 14.1 million tonnes of foods and non-alcoholic beverages were sold. This equates to 1,538 grams of food and drink per person per day.
  • Total dietary energy available from sales averaged 8,770 kJ per person per day.
  • Discretionary foods contributed 38.2% of the total dietary energy.

Summary

Apparent consumption

Apparent consumption in this publication measures the amount of food purchased from sales data, but does not measure actual consumption as it does not account for food purchases from fast food outlets, cafes and restaurants, or foods not consumed due to waste or storage. For more information on the scope and methods see the Methodology.

Australian Dietary Guidelines

The apparent consumption of non-discretionary foods has been compared to the recommendations in the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. The daily serves per capita available from food sales were lower than the average recommendations in the ADG for each of the five food groups. In particular, the apparent daily consumption of fruit was below the recommended average two serves per day, at 1.5 serves per person. In comparison, vegetables were well below the recommended average five serves per day, at just 2.3 serves.

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Note(s): The darker column indicates the (population weighted) average recommended serves across life stage age groups.
a. Non-discretionary foods. See Glossary for more information.
b. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
c. Includes fruit juice.
d. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
e. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans.

Sodium consumption

The average daily amount of apparent sodium consumption was 3,140 milligrams per person. This is 1.6 times the recommended daily intake of 2,000 milligrams per person. Typically consumed as table salt, sodium is also found naturally in a variety of food products. The largest contributors of sodium were from salt, stocks and seasonings (23.1%), followed by regular breads and bread rolls (8.5%), processed meat (8.1%), gravies and savoury sauces (7.5%), and cheese (5.0%).

Seasonality

Australian buying habits reflect seasonal patterns. The average apparent consumption of all foods was higher during the summer (1,622 grams) than winter months (1,476 grams), with non-alcoholic beverages the highest in the summer months due to a peak in the purchase of soft drinks over the festive season. Food consumption also reflects seasonal produce availability, with purchases of citrus fruit peaking in winter months.

Dietary energy

Total dietary energy from food and non-alcoholic beverage sales was 8,770 kJ per capita per day. The leading Major food groups contributing to total daily dietary energy included:

  • Cereals and cereal products (e.g. rice, bread, pasta, breakfast cereal) (1,634 kJ or 18.6%)
  • Milk products (1,248 kJ or 14.2%)
  • Meat and poultry products (1,152 kJ or 13.1%)
  • Cereal based products (e.g. biscuits, cakes, pastries) (885 kJ or 10.1%)
  • Fats and oils (722 kJ or 8.2%).
     
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By Sub-major food groups the leading contributors to dietary energy were:

  • Regular breads and bread rolls (586 kJ or 6.7%)
  • Dairy milk (508 kJ or 5.8%)
  • Flours, rice and other grains (461 kJ or 5.3%)
  • Beef, lamb and pork (396 kJ or 4.5%)
  • Plant oils (388 kJ or 4.4%).
     
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​​​​​​​Macronutrient contribution to dietary energy

Dietary energy from foods is provided by the macronutrient constituents which include carbohydrate, protein, fat, dietary fibre and alcohol.

The relative contribution of the macronutrients to available dietary energy comprised:

  • Carbohydrate (43.8%)
  • Total Fat (38.8%)
  • Protein (15.5%)
  • Dietary fibre (1.9%)
  • Alcohol (0%) (Alcoholic beverages are not in scope for this data. See paragraph 14 of the Methodology).


An imbalance among the relative proportions of the macronutrients is considered a risk factor for chronic disease and is assessed against recommendations known as Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR). Compared with the AMDRs, the proportion of energy from total fat was almost four percentage points higher than the upper limit (38.8% compared with the 35% maximum), while energy from carbohydrate was just below the lower limit (43.8% compared with the 45% minimum). The proportion of energy from protein was within the AMDR, but at the lower end of the range (15.5% compared with the 15% minimum).

Table 1 - Energy from macronutrients and acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges(a)

MacronutrientApparent consumption proportion, 2018–19(%)Recommended range(a)(%)
Protein15.515–25
Carbohydrate43.845–65
Total fat38.820–35
a. See: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand.

Dietary guidelines

The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) recommends that Australians “enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day”. The five food groups are:

  • Grain (cereal) foods,
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans,
  • Fruit,
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, and
  • Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (lean meats and alternatives).


The ADG include minimum recommended daily serves of the five food groups to be consumed (by age and sex groups) to satisfy nutrient requirements and minimise the risk of diet related chronic disease. Because the ADG also recommend limiting consumption of discretionary foods (i.e. those containing relatively higher amounts of saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol), the ADG recommended daily serves are only compared to the apparent consumption of non-discretionary foods for each of the five food groups.

The daily serves per capita available from food sales were lower than the average recommendations in the ADG for each of the five food groups.

Compared to the average recommended serves per day, the apparent daily consumption per capita by Australians was:

  • 3.9 serves of grains and cereals (average recommendation 5.5 serves)
  • 2.3 serves of vegetables (average recommendation 5.0 serves)
  • 1.5 serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives (average recommendation 3.0 serves)
  • 1.8 serves of lean meat and alternatives (average recommendation 2.5)
  • 1.5 serves of fruit (average recommendation 2.0 serves).
     
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Note(s): The darker column indicates the (population weighted) average recommended serves across life stage age groups.
a. Non-discretionary foods. See Glossary for more information.
b. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
c. Includes fruit juice.
d. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
e. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans.

Discretionary foods

Over one-third (38.2%) of the dietary energy from the food and non-alcoholic beverage sales was derived from discretionary foods. Discretionary foods (such as biscuits, confectionery, pastries, processed meats, salty snack foods and sugar sweetened beverages) are discouraged in the ADG because they are considered a poor source of nutrients and their energy density can displace more nutritious food choices.

A majority of the discretionary energy (72%) was contributed by six Major food groups led by:

  • Cereal based products (21.1%)
  • Confectionery (15.0%)
  • Meat and poultry products (9.9%)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages (8.9%)
  • Sugar products (8.7%)
  • Snack foods (8.3%).


Within the Sub-major food groups, the leading contributors of discretionary energy included:

  • Chocolate (9.8%)
  • Sweet biscuits (8.0%)
  • Sugar, honey and syrups (6.5%)
  • Processed meat (5.4%)
  • Pastries (4.9%)
  • Soft drinks (4.7%)
  • Potato snacks (4.5%).
     
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Basic food groups

In addition to assessing apparent consumption with the recommended serves in the Australian Dietary Guidelines (which emphasises the non-discretionary choices), the ADG database can also be used to provide a summary view of the relative amounts of basic food groups making up all apparent consumption (i.e. including both the non-discretionary and discretionary foods).

By weight, the daily apparent consumption per capita consisted of:

  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives (274 grams)
  • Grains and cereals (245 grams)
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans (219 grams)
  • Fruit (208 grams including fruit juice, 160 grams excluding fruit juice)
  • Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (173 grams).
     
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  1. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
  2. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
  3. Includes fruit juice.
  4. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans.

By serves (where a serve is equivalent to the serving sizes defined in the 2013 ADG), the daily apparent consumption per capita consisted of:

  • Grains and cereals (5.0 serves)
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans (2.9 serves)
  • Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (2.4 serves)
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives (1.8 serves)
  • Fruit (1.6 serves including juice, 1.2 serves excluding juice).
     
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  1. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
  2. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans.
  3. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
  4. Includes fruit juice.

Contributing food types within basic food groups

Each food group may be further broken down by selected sub groupings defined in the ADG.

Within grains and cereals the leading contributors to daily serves per capita were:

  • Breads (35.6%)
  • Flour (flour includes flour in baked goods other than bread such as pastry, cakes and biscuits) (26.9%)
  • Grains (mainly rice, but also couscous, quinoa, barley and polenta) (24.1%).


A majority (72%) of the contributing grains and cereals were categorised as refined (lower fibre) rather than wholemeal varieties.

Among vegetables and legumes/beans the leading sub groups contributing to daily serves per capita were:

  • Other vegetables (main contributors to this category were tomato/tomato products, onion, cucumber, zucchini and mushroom) (41.2%)
  • Starchy vegetables (majority was from potato and potato products) (27.6%)
  • Green and brassica vegetables (broccoli, lettuce, spinach etc.) (15.8%)
  • Orange vegetables (10.0%).


The majority of fruit serves was from fresh or canned sources (64.8%), with fruit juice contributing 23.1% and dried fruit 12.1%.

Within the milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives group, leading sub groups contributing to daily serves per capita were:

  • Milk (62.1%)
  • Cheese (31.8%)
  • Yoghurt (6.0%).


Regular fat milk made up 72.2% of all milk and non-dairy milks made up less than 2% of all milk.

In the meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans group the major contributions were from:

  • Red meat (46.7%)
  • Poultry (24.1%)
  • Nuts and seeds (13.8%)
  • Eggs (6.3%).
     
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Just under two-thirds (65.6%) of all meat (red meat and poultry) was classified as lean meat, while just over three-quarters (75.9%) was un-processed.

Within the unsaturated spreads and oils group, unsaturated oils made up 62.6% of daily serves, followed by nuts (22.5%) and unsaturated spreads (14.8%).

Seasonality

Over the year to June 2019, the average daily grams available from food and non-alcoholic beverage sales per capita was higher during the summer (1,622 grams) than winter months (1,476 grams). The higher consumption in summer in part reflects the peak associated with the festive season, but also extra sales of non-alcoholic beverages during warmer months. For example, bottled water consumption increased 60% from winter to summer (from 87 grams to 139 grams per capita per day). On the other hand, the winter months saw some relatively steep increases in a number of foods consumed in smaller amounts, such as citrus fruit which had daily per capita consumption in winter more than twice that observed in summer months (28 grams and 13 grams per capita per day).

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Despite the winter rise in citrus fruits (and as well pome fruit), fruit was the only ADG group to be higher in summer, peaking in at 1.7 serves in February from 1.3 serves in June and July. The next largest seasonal movement was for consumption of grains and cereals which were higher in winter (4.0 serves) than summer (3.8 serves).

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  1. Vegetables and legumes/beans.
  2. Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans.
  3. Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives.
  4. Includes fruit juice.

Added sugars

Added sugars are defined as the sugars added to foods during processing or preparation, while 'free sugars' includes the sugar naturally present in fruit juices and honey in addition to added sugars.

  • There was an average daily consumption of 62 grams of added sugar per capita and 67 grams of free sugar.
  • Added sugar contributed 11.3% of dietary energy while free sugar contributed 12.3%. This proportion exceeds the World Health Organisation's recommendation that free sugar makes up less than 10% of dietary energy.
     

Added sugar and free sugar from selected food groups

Discretionary foods were the source of 92.4% of added sugars and 88.5% of free sugars.

Non-alcoholic beverages contributed 25.7% of added sugar and 28.5% of free sugar. Within the Sub-major food groups, those contributing the greatest proportions of apparent consumption of added sugars and free sugars were:

  • Sugar, honey and syrups (19.7% and 20.0%)
  • Soft drinks (15.7% and 14.5%)
  • Chocolate and chocolate based confectionery (10.8% and 10.1%)
  • Other confectionery (6.6% and 6.1%)
  • Sweet biscuits (6.4% and 5.9%)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices and drinks (2.4% and 6.4%).
     
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Saturated fat

The average daily per capita apparent consumption of saturated fat was 36 grams. This provided 1,333 kJ or 15.2% of all dietary energy. This amount exceeds the recommendation in the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand (NRVs) that the combined energy from saturated fat and trans fatty acids together make up less than 10% of dietary energy. Trans fatty acids, although chemically different from saturated fat are also associated with risk of chronic disease. While intakes of the trans fatty acids were relatively low (providing 0.7% of dietary energy), their presence gives a combined total of 15.9% of energy.

The Major food groups contributing most to saturated fat consumption were:

  • Milk products (31.7%)
  • Meat and poultry (16.8%)
  • Fats and oils (14.8%)
  • Cereal based products and dishes (e.g. biscuits, cakes, pastries, mixed savoury dishes) (11.9%).


By Sub-major groups, the leading contributors were:

  • Cheese (10.6%)
  • Dairy milk (9.6%)
  • Chocolate (7.4%)
  • Beef, lamb and pork (6.2%)
  • Butter (5.1% )
  • Cream (4.8%).
     
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Sodium

Average daily apparent consumption of sodium was 3,140 mg per capita, which is almost 1.6 times the NRV's Suggested Dietary Target of 2,000 mg per capita.

The Major groups with the greatest contribution were:

  • Miscellaneous category (which includes the cooking and baking ingredients such as seasonings, salt and baking soda) (27.5%)
  • Meat and poultry (16.1%)
  • Cereals and cereal products (13.8%)
  • Savoury sauces and condiments (9.7%).


The leading Sub-major food groups contributing to sodium consumption were:

  • Herbs, spices and seasonings (includes salt, stock and stock powders) (23.1%)
  • Regular breads and bread rolls (8.5%)
  • Processed meat (8.1%)
  • Gravies and savoury sauces (includes sauces such as tomato, barbecue, soy, plus marinades and pasta sauces) (7.5%)
  • Cheese (5.0%).
     
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Non-alcoholic beverages

The 2013 ADG recommends limiting the intake of sugar sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, and energy and sports drinks and advises to 'drink plenty of water'. However, as many Australians drink beverages made from tap water (plain water, teas and coffee) the amount represented from sales of foods will significantly under-estimate the total water component of Australian diets. Nevertheless, the relative volumes and amounts of sugar from the various beverage types provide an indication of the non-alcoholic beverage choices made by consumers.

The average daily apparent consumption of non-alcoholic beverages was 334 mL per capita. The greatest volumes were from:

  • Soft drinks (150 mL)
  • Bottled water (110 mL)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices (34 mL)
  • Fruit and vegetable drinks (18 mL).
     
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Over one-third (35%) of soft drinks purchased were of the intense-sweetened (sugar-free) variety. A further breakdown showed that while around one-half (51.5%) of cola soft drinks apparently consumed were intense-sweetened, just 13.4% of the non-cola soft drinks were sugar-free.

Overall, the proportion of soft drinks that were intense-sweetened (35%) was significantly higher than the sugar-free varieties of:

  • Cordials (16.9%)
  • Energy drinks (15.5%)
  • Electrolyte drinks (9.2%).
     
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Energy and added sugar

The selected non-alcoholic beverages consumed accounted for 301 kJ per capita, which was just 3.4% of total dietary energy. However, the non-alcoholic beverages were the source of around one-quarter of the total available added sugar (24.2%) and free sugar (26.7%) from all foods and non-alcoholic beverages.

The mean daily consumption of added sugar and free sugar from the non-alcoholic beverages was 15 grams and 18 grams per captia respectively. The additional amount of free sugar comes from the naturally occurring sugar in fruit and vegetable juice and fruit and vegetable drinks (which is not defined as an added sugar).

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Seasonality

Apparent consumption of non-alcoholic beverages was highest in the summer months, primarily driven by the purchases of soft drinks and bottled water. The December peak for soft drinks (205 grams), leads the January peak for water (147 grams) likely due to the sales of soft drinks for the festive season.

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Data downloads

Apparent consumption of selected foodstuffs, Australia, 2018–19 - Estimates

Apparent consumption of selected foodstuffs, Australia, 2018–19 - Relative standard errors and margin of errors

Appendix 1: 2011–13 AUSNUT to 2015–16 Household Expenditure Commodity (HEC) codes correspondence

History of changes

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29/06/2020 - The addition of 'Apparent consumption' to the Glossary. The modification of paragraph 3 in the Methodology to include 'previous' when referring to the previous ABS Apparent Consumption of Foodstuffs collection. And the modification of ml to mL in the Methodology.