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Australian consumers are increasingly conscious about the food they are eating and its impact on their health and wellbeing. As a result, consumers have embraced fresh food, driving overall 2% total volume growth in 2016.
Australians are also adopting “flexitarian” lifestyles where they are consciously choosing to have less meat in their diets with “meat free” days. Changing lifestyle trends and a steady rise in average incomes in Australia have also driven demand for fish and seafood, offering a premium alternative to meat as a rich protein source.
2016 also saw consumers embracing a wide range of other protein sources including eggs, poultry and pork. In part, this was spurred by rising beef prices over 2016 due to lower cattle stocks. However, there is growing awareness of the potential negative impacts of consuming too much red meat on health as well as the environment.
Although consumers desire healthy fresh food and have embraced many different forms of protein, convenience continues to be a main driver for many consumers leading them to look to packaged food. This has constrained growth of fresh food especially as consumers looking for meat alternatives are buying meat substitutes, tracked under packaged food.
Australian consumers will continue to demand a range of protein sources to add variety to their diets, although beef is expected to continue to be an important source of protein. As incomes continue to rise, fish and seafood will become an increasingly important part of Australian diets. This will be spurred by greater awareness of the different types of fish and seafood available on the market.
Fresh food will face competition from packaged food. As meat substitutes, tracked under packaged food, continue to improve in taste, quality and convenience, consumers will embrace these as a mainstream alternative to meat especially as flexitarian lifestyles become more common. This will be driven by trends in consumer foodservice, with outlets offering vegetarian alternatives regularly. In particular, mushroom patties in burgers have become a feature in popular burger chains including Grill’d and Burger Project owned by Rockpool Group.
Fresh food will continue to compete with packaged food as consumers balance the desire for healthy fresh food with the desire for convenience, especially as Australians are becoming more time poor.
The line between packaged food and fresh food will become increasingly blurred. Fresh food providers will respond to consumer demand for convenience by offering fresh food in convenient prepackaged formats. For example, prewashed packaged salads are already becoming a feature in many fresh food stores. Alternatively, major supermarkets offer pre-packaged meat products that allow consumers to pick what they want quickly.