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What a difference a decade makes: our changing culinary habits and attitudes

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2006 (n=24,421) and January-December 2016 (n=14,330). Base: Australians 14+

Australians are more likely to go to a café for coffee or tea than to eat out at a fast-food place, and having a meal at the pub is now vastly more popular than getting a pizza home-delivered. Meanwhile, low-fat diets are falling out of favour, fewer people are preoccupied with their cholesterol levels, and more of us are opting to buy the same food week in, week out. The past decade has seen some marked changes in Australians’ dining and dietary habits, and Roy Morgan has been monitoring them closely.

One of the most striking trends over the last 10 years has been our ever-more widespread penchant for going to cafes. Back in 2006, 51.1% of Aussies aged 14+ visited a café for coffee or tea at least once in an average three months; since then, this has risen to 58.9%. Furthermore, 48.2% of us now go to a café for a snack or meal at least once per quarter, a substantial increase on 40.8% in 2006.

Whereas the proportion of Aussies going to the pub solely for a drink has dropped from 27.2% to 23.2%, heading there for a meal is another matter. In any given three-month period during 2016, nearly 45% of us ate at the pub at least once (up from 38.8%), which means that it is now more popular than ordering a home-delivered pizza (which plummeted from 43.9% to 31.9%).  

Our cafe, restaurant, fast food and home delivery habits: 2006 vs 2016

eating-out-2006-2016-chart

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2006 (n=24,421) and January-December 2016 (n=14,330). Base: Australians 14+

Ordering other home-delivered food saw a modest increase (from 12.5% to 14.2%), as did eating at a fast-food place and grabbing fast food to take away (from 46.6% to 48.2%, and 57.1% to 58.2% respectively).

Though fewer Aussies are going to BYO restaurants (23.6%) than they were in 2006 (25.0%), dining at licensed restaurants has become considerably more popular (54.7%, up from 50.6%). Incidentally, the proportion of us who agree that ‘’If I could afford to eat out every night I would’ has crept up from 19.9% to 23.1% over the last decade.


Foodie viewpoints

But a growing desire for the financial freedom to eat out every night is just one attitudinal shift related to food and/or diet that has occurred over the last decade. Almost three quarters of the population (72.4%) now say they enjoy food from all over the world (up from 65.5% in 2006), while 57.3% report buying much more fresh or chilled foods than they used to (up from 53.1%).

Food without additives in it has become increasingly popular (last year, 49.9% of Aussies made an effort to buy it, compared with 46.0% in 2006); as has buying the same food each week (36.5%, up from 28.7%). A preference for taste over ingredients, and a tendency to snack throughout the day, are also among the last decade’s key food-related trends.

Australians’ changing attitudes to food: 2006 vs 2016

food-attitudes-2006-2016-chart

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2006 (n=24,421) and January-December 2016 (n=14,330). Base: Australians 14+

Intriguingly, health-oriented dietary concerns such as getting enough calcium, staying on top of one’s cholesterol levels, and following a low-fat diet, have all slipped.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The fact that more Australians are dining out at eateries of various descriptions than they were 10 years ago speaks volumes about our ongoing obsession with food and gourmet culture. With TV cooking shows and celebrity chefs as popular as ever, it’s almost a matter of pride for many people to visit the latest restaurant or café before their friends: home-delivered pizza just won’t cut it anymore!

 “Connected to this is the inexorable rise of café society. Visiting cafes, whether for a drink or a meal (or both) is booming, and shows no sign of slowing even as heading to the pub for a drink has lost ground. While it’s tempting to assume this is all part of a move towards healthier living, Roy Morgan data shows a decline in overall concern about cholesterol, low-fat diets and calcium.

“This long-term analysis of Australians’ changing attitudes to food and diet, as well as shifting trends in where they dine, is a timely reminder for the hospitality industry, as well as for food brands and retailers, that their market cannot be taken for granted. Of course everyone needs to eat, but the food they choose and where they choose to consume it is not a foregone conclusion. With the assistance of Roy Morgan’s in-depth Single Source data, however, businesses can ensure they’re armed with all the insights necessary to stay relevant in—and profit from—Australia’s ever-changing foodie culture.”


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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate

40%-60%

25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%

5,000

±1.4

±1.2

±0.8

±0.6

7,500

±1.1

±1.0

±0.7

±0.5

10,000

±1.0

±0.9

±0.6

±0.4

20,000

±0.7

±0.6

±0.4

±0.3

50,000

±0.4

±0.4

±0.3

±0.2