Examining recent trends and issues in Australia's food demand is important for two reasons.
- Food security—a key role of government is to ensure there is a high level of food security in Australia. In general terms, food security refers to the adequate and reliable provision of food that is safe, nutritious and affordable. As a net exporter of food and food technology services, Australia also contributes significantly to global food security.
- Economic opportunities for farmers and other food providers—household food consumption in the domestic market accounts for around two-thirds of Australia's indicative food production (based on value), although food exports have recovered strongly in recent years.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducts a household expenditure survey (HES) every five to six years, providing data on food expenditure trends over time and across key population sub-groups (where households, for example, may be grouped according to gross household income or household net worth). A key feature of Australia's household food expenditure since 1988-89 has been the trend away from home cooking toward meals out and fast foods (see figure); the share of meals out and fast foods in total food expenditure increased from 25 per cent in 1988-89 to 31 per cent in 2009-10 and 34 per cent in 2015-16, the latest year available.
The latest ABARES Insights says Australia does not have a food security problem, with Australia exporting about 70% of agricultural production and importing only about 10% of our food.
A key focus of this report is to examine important aspects of the Australian Government's policy framework that contribute substantially to Australia's high level of food security.
In this report updated information on trends is provided (including 2015-16 HES data) and issues cover food security in low-income households (especially those highly reliant on government pensions and allowances), nutrition security, and food losses and waste.