Convenience the key driver for Australia’s food health choices

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th November 2013

Australians prefer their food to come from “natural” sources, but are not prepared to forego eating out, takeaway and pre-prepared foods and meals from supermarkets, according to the new Ipsos Food Health report.

The report, which was drawn up by market research organisation Ipsos, shows the extent to which provenance and issues related to it, including sustainable use of resources and support for farmers, are important to Australians.

According to Ipsos, 85 per cent of respondents said that the origin of their food was somewhat or very important to them. More than six in 10 (62 per cent) somewhat or totally agreed that food production should use Australia’s resources in a “more environmentally sustainable way”, and almost six in 10 (59 per cent) somewhat or totally agreed that supporting Australian farmers was more important than getting cheap milk or bread.

The report found that in general Australians believed that the best pathway to health was through “natural sources” rather than fortified foods and vitamins and supplements, with 63 per cent of respondents somewhat or totally agreeing with this statement. This compared to 20 per cent who somewhat or totally agreed that vitamin pills and supplements were needed for proper nutrition with a modern diet.

Report developed to build picture of “food health choices”

The first annual Ipsos Food Health Report was developed to build a picture of what Australian consumers eat in relation to how they view health and wellbeing. Ipsos said it aimed to gain an understanding of the consumer mindset in each socio-economic segment of attitudes to food and health. It also wanted to reveal the food choices people actively make and those they avoid.

Ipsos said its report shared some common metrics with the Australian Health Survey (AHS), enabling Ipsos to link insights into mindset around health and attitudes to key health outcomes.

How ideas about health impact eating out

Ipsos said the Food Health Report also explored the extent to which Australians, regardless of their mindset about food and health, rely on eat-in, takeaway and pre-prepared foods from supermarkets each week.

The research showed that Australians eat non-home-cooked evening meals 2.5 times a week on average. This figure included eating out, takeaway and supermarket ready-to-eat prepared meals.

“These non-home-cooked options are now a permanent and important part of how we eat, but there is little intention to cut down on these options to improve health and wellbeing,” said Dr Rebecca Huntley, the Executive Director of the Ipsos Food Health Report.

“Despite good intentions to eat more fruit and vegetables over the year ahead — which was a top priority for 11 per cent of respondents — only 2 per cent said that eating out less was their top priority in terms of food for the next 12 months,” Dr Huntley said.

Five different attitudinal mindsets

The report also includes attitudinal segmentation based on mindset. There are five different typical mindsets with clear differences in attitudes to food and health as well as choices of food and drink, lifestyle and health outcomes. The five segments are: ‘Active and Traditional’, ‘Fearful and Faddish’, ‘Inactive and Indifferent’, ‘Seasoned and Sensible’, and ‘Complete Convenience’.

Ipsos said the segments also revealed that convenience drives consumer dinner choices in all segments, regardless of their mindset about food and health.

Research for the Ipsos Food Health Report was conducted online using a nationally representative sample of people ages 18 years or over with quotas of age, gender and location.

Convenience drives Australians' food choices