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The cost of living diet: 14 million Australians change eating to save cash

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The rising cost of living has forced Aussies to change their diets, according to new research by Finder.

Finder's Cost of Living Report 2023 revealed the average Australian household reported spending $185 a week on groceries in February 2023, up $37 a week compared to 12 months prior – with 94% of consumers noticing an increase in their grocery bill.

A Finder survey of 1,054 respondents found a staggering 3 in 4 (71%) Australians – equivalent to 14.2 million people – have adapted their eating behaviour as a result of rising costs.

This coincides with Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing strong price rises were seen across most food grocery products over the past year – including meat and seafood (8% increase), bread and cereal products (12% increase) and dairy and related products (15%).

Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, said households are looking for ways to save on their weekly shop.

"Eating on the cheap could be here to stay as households battle with the rising cost of living.

"For some, it's a case of making changes or going hungry."

The research found almost half of Aussies (47%) have cut back on takeaway and fast foods in an attempt to rein in spending.

More than 1 in 3 (35%) are abstaining from meat and seafood.

A similar proportion are avoiding booze (32%) to save money.

Cooke said interestingly, Aussie households are not cutting back more heavily on the food groups with the highest cost increase.

"Restaurants and takeaway account for the largest cut-backs, but have only seen a price increase of 7%.

"However, staples such as fruit, vegetables, coffee and eggs have increased by up to 13%. This shows that inflation is hurting those who want to eat healthy a little harder.

"As the cost of groceries escalates, selective eating can save a lot of cash at the checkout."

The research found 16% of Aussies have cut back on fruit and vegetables while 14% are consuming less dairy products.

Cooke said cutting out whole food groups could come with risks.

"Helping the hip pocket shouldn't come at the cost of harming your health.

"Investigate growing your own fresh produce, compare different supermarket prices and farmers markets and buy in bulk when items go on sale," Cooke said.

Read Finder's Cost of Living Report 2023 here.

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