Dining habits of Australians have changed, but restaurants still popular

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 29th July 2009

Sydneysiders and Melburnians have not abandoned restaurants, while meat and three veg remains Australia’s most popular meal, according to two new surveys released this week.

restaurant food

Research into credit card spending by American Express in Melbourne and Sydney showed that, despite restaurants remain a popular option for Australians, expenditure has come under pressure – particularly at fine dining establishments.

The credit card provider conducted a survey with restaurateurs in Australia’s two most populous cities and discovered that 83 per cent have noted a fall in consumer spend driven largely by changing habits in the restaurant environment rather than a drop off in customers – although upmarket establishments in inner city suburbs of Melbourne had seen a drop in customer frequency.

Desserts are being shunned by consumers in a bid to cut costs, with over half of those surveyed noticing a decline in dessert orders. Other cost cutting measures include increased sharing of meals and the purchase of cheaper options.

The majority of the 250 restaurant, cafe and bar owners interviewed said the economic turbulence had provided a major challenge to the business.

Cafés and bars, however, were seen to be rising above any economic gloom, with almost a third reporting higher profits.

“Downscaling is very much the current trend,” AMEX head of client management, Geoff Begg, said, according to AAP. “Cafes and bars have been able to step in and meet this need much quicker and easier than some of the more upmarket establishments.”

John Hart, Chief Executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia, said the fact that most Australians were still dining out boded well for the restaurant sector as the economy showed signs of improvement.

Meat and veg

Home cooking has comeback in vogue in the past year as consumers look to save money and shows like MasterChef encourage a new breed of cooks. Greater experimentation has yet to flow through to the average household, however, with most of the top ten home cooked meals relatively simple to prepare.

The leading meal was chops or steak with salad/vegetables, with one in every five Australian households serving this up each night, a Westinghouse survey obtained by the Herald Sun showed.

Rounding out the top ten were roasts, spaghetti bolognaise, stir fry, fish, and a number of readymade meals.