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The Big Battle – Healthy Eating vs Cost

Health Food Cost


A study in 2013 by Harvard researchers revealed that an average family of four would need to spend an extra $2,000 a year to eat ‘healthy’. Although a recent journal published by BMC Public Health cements that a healthy diet as recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines, is cheaper then junk food, yet still too expensive for some, taking up to 31% of a low-income household’s disposable income. The acceptable benchmark of affordability is around 30%.

Australian families spend an average 17% of their incomes on food, ranking in the world’s top five countries for food affordability.

On a diet of up to 38% ‘junk food’, a family of two adults and two children spend between $640.20 and $661.92 fortnightly, depending on the socio-economic area. If this was to be changed to a healthy diet, the cost would decrease to between $560.93 and $580.01.

Despite these figures indicating it’s cheaper to eat healthy, it’s still a back and forth argument, with conflicting opinions between different researchers and different consumer groups.

What can be agreed on, is that food prices are rising across the board and demand for healthier options is only growing.

Over the past 15 years in Australia, the cost of healthy foods has increased more rapidly than unhealthy food, even though basic healthy foods don’t incur GST. Some argue that the recognised value of healthy foods are increasing demand and pushing up prices.

Health Food Cost table
Drivers behind the increasing demand for healthier food options include societal, demographic, technological, governmental and, most notably, the shift in consumer focus on their diets effect on their health. It’s estimated that global sales of healthy food products are estimated to reach $1 trillion by 2017.

Whether you agree or disagree that healthier foods cost more, research reveals that healthier foods are in high demand and are of high value to Australian consumers.
Call out: 88% of consumers are actually happy to pay more for healthier foods.

Australians see these healthy choices as an investment in their health and as a prevention method of disease and illness.

With news that poor diet is now the number one preventable risk factor contributing to the burden of disease in Australia, this demand is only expected to grow.

So does price really matter? Maybe value is what we should be assessing? And isn’t there more value in eating healthier?


Sources: Future Directions International, 2016; Euromonitor, 2016; Newhope, 2016; Nielsen, 2016.