Budgeting families are choosing to eat at home more and eat out less in the wake of the global financial crisis, a new market insights publication produced by the vegetable industry has revealed.

In the last quarter of 2009, an increase in the preparation of meals at home continued and the vegetable products purchased for these meals reflected higher demand for ‘meal ready’ options, according to VEGINSIGHTS – a weekly vegetable industry publication which monitors influences on consumer behaviour and market trends.

These increases were well above their normal seasonal trend and were lead by prepared salad mixes, which increased by 30%, as well as a range of products in smaller portion sizes.

AUSVEG Communications Manager, Hugh Tobin, said that families may be looking more and more to meals prepared at home as a cheaper and healthier alternative to eating out.

‘Consumers may be turning to home prepared meals, which include vegetables, as an inexpensive source of food during these financially demanding times,’ Mr Tobin said.

Households have adjusted as a result of the economic downturn, VEGINSIGHTS says, to prepare approximately one additional evening meal at home. A sizeable 64-68% of budgeting families’ expenditure on food is for meals prepared and eaten at home.

By comparison, singles and couples with a higher income spend just 51-53% of their total food spend on meals prepared and eaten at home – the lowest of all five market segments.

‘Consumers who’ve moved to economise on food expenditure in the wake of the economic downturn may be finding vegetables a cheaper and much healthier option,’ Mr Tobin said.

‘While singles and couples with higher incomes may have been far more hesitant to trade off their existing lifestyles, many families, whilst locked in to at least one night each week where they eat out, have re-embraced the tradition of the home prepared meal.’

According to VEGINSIGHTS, families were the first to move to economise on food when signs of the economic downturn appeared 18 months ago.

Budgeting families make up 25% of Australian households and they have a 22% share of the overall food market. Consumption profiles were compiled based on data obtained from the Consumers and Markets program’s Mealpulse panel – a nationally weighted 1200-person panel which is the largest single-purpose continuous monitor of the food market in Australia.

AUSVEG is the national peak industry body which represents vegetable and potato growers.

VEGINSIGHTS is published weekly as part of the Vegetable Industry Development Program, which is funded by the National Vegetable Levy with matched funding from the Australian Government.


MEDIA CONTACT: Hugh Tobin, Communications Manager, AUSVEG Ph: (03) 9544 8098, Mob: 0431 939 920, Email: hugh.tobin@ausveg.com.au.