Food facts, fiction and fads – How Australia eats, thinks about and shops for food

Ipsos Food CHATs report the most comprehensive study into the actual food attitudes and behaviour of everyday Australians.

Ipsos Food CHATs report the most comprehensive study into the actual food attitudes and behaviour of everyday Australians.

Cutting back on sugar and eating more fresh and unprocessed foods is a priority for Australians, however many believe being healthy is expensive and time consuming, a new landmark report by market research company Ipsos reveals.
The Ipsos Food CHATs (Consumption, Habits, Attitudes and Trends) report* is Australia’s most comprehensive study into food and provides a unique insight into behaviour change and attitudinal trends of everyday Australians when it comes to food. The study reveals our behaviour in everything from food and health priorities, what and where we eat, to how we shop.

The top five food priorities in 2016 for Australians are: eating more fresh fruit and vegetables (40%), smaller portion sizes (31%), reducing sugar intake from food (24%), eating healthier snacks (23%) and cutting down on fat (23%).

Obesity weighs heavily on the minds of Australians, but we believe healthiness is expensive and time consuming. Taste and price top the list of purchase decisions drivers in-store, at 72% and 63% respectively, followed by price discounts. In addition, health continues to be the high priority area for 2016 and Australians want the Government to do more about it. After a number of food safety scares last year, food origin and safety is a clear priority and sustainability and recycling continues to gain traction.

When it comes to sugar, one in two adult Australians believes there is too much sugar in packaged goods, however only one in four have tried to reduce their sugar intake.

Snacking is still very popular with two-thirds of Australians snacking between meals and healthy snacks are a priority. Although diet fads have also become top of mind, with the Paleo diet achieving the highest awareness at 47%, trial of these diets remains low at below 10%.

“Our study shows that while making healthier food choices is a key priority for Australians, the typical, everyday shopper is still struggling to balance healthiness against convenience and their budget,” Ipsos Strategy & Research Director Kathy Benson said.

“Making a quick decision in-store, purchasing products which are familiar and easy to use at home, as well as meeting budget restrictions, are still very important factors when it comes to making food purchases.

“Our budgets still have a higher priority in-store than our health aspirations. Easy decisions rule and finding a healthy choice is still a challenge for many despite the introduction of the Government’s ‘Health Star Rating’ system.”

Food facts, fiction and fads - how Australia eats, shops and thinks about food - Ipsos study


In terms of future growth areas, the study illustrates that Australians would like to eat more natural sugar substitutes (65%), ‘no added hormone’ beef (55%), organic chicken (46%), stall-free pork (41%), organic beef (40%), plant-based milk alternatives (33%), sugar substitutes (32%) and vegetable protein (31%).

We would like to eat less artificial sweeteners (55%), sugar from beverages (49%), sugar from breakfast cereals (48%), food additives (41%), trans fat (40%), fat from meat (35%), sugar from sweet snacks (35%) and fat from dairy (19%).

Eating In

“Our craving for exciting flavour experiences shows no signs of diminishing and we still love new flavours and inspiring food creations. However, experiencing the adventurous side of food consumption is happening more when dining out than in kitchens at home. Dinner is still our main meal of the day and our dinner choices remain fairly consistent with staples such as meat and veg or salad, pasta, fish and veg or pizza as our top choices” Benson said.

“Despite our fascination with cooking pop-culture in recent times, half of us see cooking as a chore or only as a way of caring for others in everyday life. And although two out of every three of us prepare dinner from scratch to create a healthy meal, there are still many occasions where we are reliant on ready and packaged meals.”

Almost half the population (45%) does a main or bulk shop on their last trip, while a third (34%) does a top up shop, however only 7% of us shop for today’s meal. Provenance is a key factor for two in five of us and outside of supermarkets, the local fruit and veg shop or deli (20%), the local butcher (20%), bakery or bread shop (18%), farmer’s markets (9%) and specialist fish shop (7%) are our most popular shopping destinations.

Eating Out

One in three Australians say they eat out and restaurants or cafes are our favourite places to eat out, followed by fast food chains, food courts and clubs and pubs.

Fast food chains dominate the average number of eating out occasions at 4.6 times per month, compared to restaurants and cafes at 4.2 times. McDonald’s is the most popular fast food venue (28%), followed by Hungry Jacks (14%), KFC (10%), Subway (9%) and Coffee Club (4%).

For more information please contact Kathy Benson ( or Eileen Fong (

* Methodology: The study surveyed 3,002 consumers and food decision makers aged 18+, a representative national sample. Fieldwork was conducted in December 2015 via an online survey. The study looked at four key areas: an investigation into consumers’ diet and actual consumption covering the 5Ws (who, what, when, why and where) and how consumption is changing over time; investigation into decision-making and what is influencing healthy food decisions in Australia; understanding how food is being prepared at home, what are the trends in relation to cooking; and understanding of eating out occasions, behavioural decisions/drivers and food & beverage choices.