MEDIA RELEASE: Is Australia losing its sweet tooth? New report finds local sugar consumption on the decline

October 04, 2012 at 4:00 PM


Embargoed: 00.01hrs Friday 5th October 2012

Is Australia losing its sweet tooth?
New report finds local sugar consumption on the decline

Australian’s sugar consumption has fallen by 9.3% over the past eight years, according to a new, independent report by Green Pool Commodity Specialists released today.
The report, Sugar Consumption in Australia: A Statistical Update, is the first comprehensive, published assessment of Australia’s sugar consumption trends since 1999 and has found that apparent sugar consumption per capita* has dropped from 46.26 kilos in 2004 to 41.97 kilos in 2011.
In the longer term, national sugar consumption has declined by more than a quarter (26.4%) over the past 60 years – falling from a peak of 57.0 kilos in 1951.
This comprehensive review of all available sugar sources represents the first detailed, independent assessment of the nation’s sugar consumption trends since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ceased publishing the ‘Apparent Consumption of Foodstuffs’ data in 1998/99. Prior to this, published ABS national consumption reports including sugar had been available since 1938.
“Our assessment included a rigorous analysis of the data sources and methodology used previously by the ABS in sugar consumption reporting between 1938 and 1999,” Green Pool’s Director, Tom McNeill said.
“With data supplied by the ABS, Green Pool was able to source and interpret current data, replicating the ABS methodology and creating a continuum of the ABS figures until 2011,” Mr McNeill added.
The key findings from the Green Pool Report are:

  • Contrary to previously published data, Australia’s apparent sugar consumption per capita has dropped 9.3% from 46.26 kilos per person per year in 2004 to 41.97 kilos in 2011.
  • In the longer term, consumption has fallen by 15.0 kilos per person/year over the last 60 years - declining by 26.4% from a peak of 57.0 kilos per person/year in 1951.
  • The report confirms that sucrose (from cane sugar) forms the major source of sugar in the Australian diet.
  • It establishes while sucrose consumption is dropping, claims that fructose consumption has escalated could not be verified, as accurate fruit beverage consumption data is not readily available. Imports of crystalline fructose into Australia amount to less than 0.31% of the total sugar consumed by individual Australians (or 0.13 kilos per head per year).
  • Consumption figures within the report are apparent consumption and not actual** consumption. Taking into account food wastage, from producer to consumer level, actual consumption is expected to be lower.

“All aspects of sugar consumption in Australia have been incorporated into our calculations - including household use, processed foods and beverages, takeaways, convenience foods and
restaurant meals. Imports and exports of sugar and sugar-containing manufactured foods and beverages were also assessed,” states Mr McNeill.
A review of an alternative sugar consumption methodology source, ABARES (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences), referenced in recent reporting to explain local apparent sugar consumption, was also conducted.
As outlined by the Report, ABARES states its dataset is a poor measure of domestic sugar consumption for a number of reasons, including the fact the data does not account for imports and exports of sugar-containing foods and beverages in Australia. Green Pool’s Report backs up such claims, finding the ABARES data series has no value as an indicator of sugar consumption trends.
Sucrose, derived from cane sugar, was the central focus of the review, which represents the major proportion of sugar consumed in Australia. However, alternative sweeteners: honey, glucose, syrups and fructose, and high fructose corn syrups (HFCS) were also accounted for in the review. High intensity sweeteners (artificial or natural) were not assessed.
Mr McNeill, Green Pool concludes: “We believe this Report fills a significant void that has appeared since the ABS ceased publishing the ‘Apparent Consumption of Foodstuffs’ data in 1998/99. Since this time, no robust, independent assessment of apparent food consumption, at a national level, has been available for policy makers, health professionals, industry and others – including for sugar consumption.
“By applying the same methodology and data sources, trusted by the ABS from 1938 to 1999, we hope this Report will provide the most up-to-date, reliable and trusted reference for domestic sugar consumption statistics moving forward.”
The report was supported by the Australian Sugar Refiners and CANEGROWERS (the peak body for Australian sugarcane growers).

For more information please contact:
Anne-Marie Sparrow 0417 421 560 or Rita Corrente 0414 552 426

More about Green Pool:
Green Pool Commodity Specialists is an independent and privately owned analytical firm based in Brisbane. The company’s analytical focus is on the global soft commodity (including sugar) and biofuels markets, with a central focus on agriculture, climate and market dynamics. Green Pool produces independent forecasts of annual and quarterly statistical balances in its focus commodities. Green Pool’s client base includes international commodity trading firms, producers, processors, fund investors and banks.

* Apparent Consumption or per capita consumption = total amount of sugar available in the food supply divided by the population giving consumption per person per year
**“Actual” or “True” Consumption – amount of sugar actually consumed – this data is derived from National Nutrition Surveys (the last government survey was conducted 17 years ago in Australia – NNS 1995 (Adults and Children)

Reference: Green Pool report “Sugar Consumption in Australia: A Statistical Update” October 2012

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