Australians uncertain about their future food

A new Ipsos survey of 29 countries looking at current food habits and future perceptions reveals that half believe the cost of the food they eat will get worse and three in ten believe the environmental impact of the food they eat will get worse.

The survey, conducted online among adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America, revealed that a variety of attitudes and perceptions exist across the globe in relation to food.

Future food

  • Six in ten (59 per cent) Australian respondents believe the cost of the food they eat will get worse whereas, on average, just under half (48 per cent) of people across 29 countries the cost will get worse.

  • In contrast, Australians are split on the environmental impact of the food they eat in the future, with 20 per cent believe it will be better and 25 per cent believe it will be worse. Across the globe, on average 27 per cent believe the environmental impact of their food will be better while 29 per cent say worse. Australia was one of the 10 countries least likely to predict an improvement in the environmental impact.

  • Predictions around the quality of food and access to healthy food were more positive with 27 per cent of Australians believe the quality of the food they eat will get better (versus only 18 per cent saying worse) and 28 per cent believing their access to healthy food will get better (versus only 17 per cent saying worse). Globally the average for these two statements was 33 per cent better and 25 per cent worse for food quality, and 36 per cent better and 22 per cent worse for access to healthy food.

Meal preparation

  • Three in ten (31 per cent) Australian respondents believe they will prepare meals at home more frequently, with 64 per cent saying ‘about the same’. Globally the average was 38 per cent saying more frequently and 52 per cent about the same.  

  • In line with this prediction around meal preparation in home, we saw 26 per cent of Australians predicting a decrease in having meals delivered to their homes, with 53 per cent saying ‘about the same’. Across the globe, on average 31 per cent predict a decrease and 45 per cent say ‘about the same’ for future delivery of meals to their home.  

  • Interestingly, in Australia similar proportions predict the same for having groceries delivered to their home with 53 per cent predicting it will be ‘about the same’ and 24 per cent saying less frequently. Globally the average 42 per cent saying ‘about the same’ and 27 per cent less frequently.

  • Just under two-thirds of Australians surveyed (64 per cent) predicted their eating of meals outside the home would be ‘about the same’ while 23 per cent said it would be less frequent, whereas globally 53 per cent said ‘about the same’ and 28 per cent less frequent.

Current habits and preferences

  • Australians are one of the least likely to claim to eat only organic food (19 per cent) while globally an average of 29 per cent of people claim to do so.   

  • We are also one of the least likely to say we would never eat genetically modified food (41 per cent), compared to a global average of 54 per cent.

  • Australia is pretty close to the global average in regard to eating a plant-based substitute for meat, with 39 per cent claiming to do so versus 41 per cent globally.

  • Six in ten Australians (60 per cent) surveyed prefer to eat local food even if it means they have fewer foods to choose from. Globally 63 per cent agreed with this statement.

  • Two in ten Australians (21 per cent) indicated they prefer not to eat any type of meat, poultry or fish, which is in line with the global average at 20 per cent.

Weight and weight loss

  • Australians are close to the global average for being content with their current weight (53 per cent versus 54 per cent globally).

  • Australians are in the top five countries for having tried a diet to lose weight, with 59 per cent having done so compared to a global average of 51 per cent.

  • Interestingly though, we are in the top four for believing that most diet plans ultimately fail, with 71 per cent believing this whereas the global average is 61 per cent.

  • Just under seven in ten Australians surveyed (69 per cent) also agreed they would rather eat well than be thin. The global average is 62 per cent.

  • When it comes to exercising so you don’t have to watch what you eat, we are close to the average at 43 per cent. The global average is 45 per cent.

  • Two in ten Australians (21 per cent) indicated they prefer not to eat any type of meat, poultry or fish, which is in line with the global average at 20 per cent.

Commenting on the findings, David Elliott, Director, Ipsos Social Research Institute, said: “It is not overly surprising that Australians are somewhat pessimistic about the cost of food in the future as this fits with what we see in the Ipsos Issues Monitor, where ‘Cost of Living’ has been the number one concern for Australians since June 2017. Likely fuelling concerns about future food pricing are constant community, political and media discussion over energy prices, recent petrol price hikes, and concerns about the impact of global warming, all of which can impact the cost of food."

“The other interesting finding was that while 59 per cent Australians we surveyed had tried a diet to lose weight, 71 per cent believed that most diet plans ultimately fail. So despite our pessimistic view of the success of diet plans, we keep on hoping and trying.”