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Australians are focusing on health with 80 per cent trying meat-free meals

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New research from Toluna, a consumer intelligence platform, has shown that only one in five (or 20 per cent) of Australians eat meat every day. 

Toluna surveyed 1,026 Australians between 27-30 July and discovered that health concerns were the driving factor for this dietary decision, changing the way consumers shop. 

Of the respondents who ate meat, 25 per cent had reduced their meat consumption, with a further 19 per cent planning to reduce their meat consumption in future. Almost half (42 per cent) the meat eaters surveyed aim to have 1-2 meat free days per week, while 24 per cent go meat-free 3-4 days a week and 7.5 per cent chose not to consume meat 5-6 days per week. 

While health concerns were the biggest driver for reducing meat consumption, other contributing factors were the high cost of meat and environmental reasons. Only 12 per cent of those who have reduced, or plan to reduce, meat conception have made this decision due to moral reasons.   

A quarter of respondents said they had tried plant-based meat alternatives, with 66 per cent of those stating they will continue to buy them in future and believe plant-based meats are a healthy alternative. 

People who wouldn’t eat meat alternatives again said the plant-based alternatives didn’t have an appealing taste (52 per cent), were too bland (43 per cent), too expensive (39 per cent) or too rubbery (29 per cent). Other reasons included their families disliked plant-based meat alternatives (17 per cent) and the food formats were not workable in meal plans (16 per cent). 

Health issues are clearly a top priority for Australian shoppers and retailers need to take note, Toluna Australia and New Zealand country director Sej Patel said. 

“Our research shows that health concerns are weighing heavily on Australians, with health being the number one driving factor for the majority of our dietary decisions, which ultimately drive our purchasing decisions,” Patel said. 

“Even though a very small number of Australians are currently following a vegan diet, a surprisingly large number are actively reducing their meat intake and are looking to eat plant-based meat alternatives instead.” 

Meanwhile, food and drink alternatives are proving to be popular with almost half of respondents having bought almond milk (42 per cent) and soy milk (40 per cent). Coconut milk, lactose free milk and oat milk were also popular milk alternatives. Non-alcoholic beverages were also on the rise with respondents having purchased non-alcoholic beers (16 per cent), non-alcoholic wine (15 per cent) and non-alcoholic spirits (10 per cent).   

The survey also showed that Australians want to eat better than they currently do. Less than half of the respondents considered their current diet to be “very healthy,” but when asked about future aspirations, 69 per cent would like their diet to be “very healthy” in future. 

Some of the main reasons that respondents’ diets weren’t as healthy included a lack of self-control (52 per cent), snacking (50 per cent) and ordering takeaway (34 per cent). 

For women, being time poor had a much greater impact on their diet than it did men, as did the habit of eating late at night. Women were also more likely to prioritise their children over their diet (12 per cent vs 6 per cent for men) and said their families not enjoying their healthy cooked meals also attributed to their own diets not being as healthy.   

Conversely, for men who didn’t feel their diet was healthy, one in three (34 per cent) said it was too hard to change (compared with only 21 per cent of women). Men also claimed alcohol had a negative impact (27 per cent vs 13 per cent of women) on their diet. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also proven to be a barrier, with 61 per cent of Australians stating that COVID-19 has impacted their overall health and attitudes to healthy eating.   

“Australian consumers are wanting to improve their eating habits and are actively seeking out healthy food and drink alternatives across a range of categories,” Patel said. 

“Retailers and brands can capitalise on this trend by ensuring they clearly communicate to consumers the health benefits of their products.” 

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