Australian families eating healthier, grocery budgets rising: Heinz survey

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 28th April 2009

Families are cooking more meals at home, cutting back on take away and eating healthier in the face of the economic downturn, a new survey has suggested.

Research on the shopping habits of 1500 consumers by food manufacturer Heinz shows that, in addition to cutting back on take away and eating out, one third has started a vegetable patch in the last six months, almost 90 per cent are making a conscious effort to reduce food waste and 28 per cent are avoiding snacks like biscuits and ice cream.

The Heinz survey discovered that families had begun cooking more vegetarian meals and were adding vegetables, lentils and baked beans to allow them to cut back on meat quantity. Consumers also indicated that they are likely to prepare meals that can be spread across more than one mealtime, with 90 per cent reporting such behaviour.

Mother shopping with child

The survey analysed how the cooking and shopping habits of Australian families have changed in the last three months due to the economic downturn.

Reflecting the trend away from eating out, grocery budgets have either increased (40 per cent of respondents) or remained level (36 per cent) with only 14 per cent reporting that their budgets had decreased. The finding is not surprising given IGA, Woolworths, Coles, Franklins and Aldi supermarkets are all announcing higher sales.

Heinz General Manager of Marketing, Melissa Jones, said that the results show families are generally changing their shopping and cooking routines in the face of tougher economic times.

“While the family food budget has remained largely intact, what is happening is a reappraisal of the household shopping list,” Ms Jones said. “Shoppers are eating more vegetables and making a conscious effort to reduce waste. Discretionary items are being dropped altogether or made at home and certain brands are only being bought when on special with the shopping destination being determined by what’s on special.”

The results also revealed that Australian have not lost their sense of humour with some not-so-gloomy approaches to saving money – one such idea was to “stop inviting the mother in law over for dinner, since she is on a diet but always wants seconds and dessert!”