News + Articles

New Australian apparent consumption data released

What are Australians eating more and less of, and how are sugars tracking?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have published new data on apparent consumption of food for the period 2020-2021. Apparent consumption is estimated by dividing retail sales by the population to obtain per capita data. It doesn’t include food purchased from restaurants, fast food outlets or cafes, and it doesn’t account for food not eaten, stored or wasted. While it can’t accurately represent dietary intake, it provides an indication of the population food supply. Interestingly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic more meals were prepared at home in this period.

Some key results of interest are:

  • Dairy and meat substitutes increased 13.8% from the previous year.
  • Fish, crustacea and molluscs and seafood products all increased.
  • Bottled water increased 11.8% and soft drinks increased 3.9%.
  • Electrolyte and energy drinks increased 21.6% (to 19.7g/day).

Core foods

Australians are consuming below the recommended amount of all core foods: grains and cereals, vegetables and legumes, fruit, milk and dairy and lean meats and alternatives. 

Discretionary foods

  • Discretionary food made up 38.1% of energy in this analysis, a slight increase (0.4%) on the previous year.
  • Biggest contributors of discretionary food energy were cereal-based products (21.3%), followed by confectionary (15.5%) and non-alcoholic beverages (9.1%).
  • The energy contributed by sugar products (table sugar, honey, jam, syrups) decreased from the previous year, but confectionary and snack foods increased.
  • The biggest change in energy contribution of discretionary foods was a decrease in sugar, honey and syrups and the greatest increase was in potato snacks.

Sugars and sweeteners

  • Free sugars were stable compared to previous years, sitting at 12.4% of total energy (WHO recommends 10%). 
  • Most free sugars came from added sugar, and most free sugars (88.7%) came from discretionary foods.
  • Energy drinks have gone up in their contribution to free sugars consumption, as has confectionery.
  • Intense sweeteners increased by 17% on 2019/20 and by 27% on 2018/19.

You can read the full report here

The next Australian national dietary intake survey is planned to go into the field in 2023 and will provide more accurate estimates of actual consumption.


Subscribe to our e-newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest news and publications from Sugar Nutrition Resource Centre.

Find out more in our Resources section


Contact us

Locked Bag 2222
North Ryde NSW 2113 Australia

Quick Links


Copyright © 2024 Sugar Nutrition Resource Centre. Website design by Marketeam