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New research finds Kiwis spending more on food, significant changes in our diets and shopping behaviours

Results at a glance:

  • New Zealand households are now spending significantly more on food than a year ago.
  • Use of food delivery services like HelloFresh and Uber Eats continues to grow.
  • The number of vegans and vegetarians in New Zealand has increased, but fewer New Zealanders are now getting their 5+ servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Three in 10 Kiwis now say they are planning to reduce meat consumption.
  • Understanding of food labelling such as ‘Best before’ and ‘Use by’ stickers remains limited.

Research by Rabobank and KiwiHarvest has highlighted significant changes in New Zealanders’ food purchasing and consumption behaviours.

The research — completed in quarter two this year — found New Zealand households are spending significantly more on food than in 2021 and that our use of food delivery services continues to increase.

It also found our diets are changing — with less Kiwis now saying they are getting their ‘5+’ of fruit and vegetables a day and just under a third of Kiwis saying they plan to decrease meat consumption — and that understanding of ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ labels remains patchy.

Rabobank Head of Sustainable Business Development Blake Holgate said the research – part of a wider study undertaken by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank and food rescue charity KiwiHarvest – found four in 10 Kiwi households now say they are spending more than $200 per week on food (up from 35 per cent last year).

“With food prices rising strongly over recent months, it’s no surprise to see household food spend has increased markedly from a year ago,” he said.

Rabobank Head of Sustainable Business Development, Blake Holgate

Rabobank Head of Sustainable Business Development, Blake Holgate

KiwiHarvest founder Deborah Manning

KiwiHarvest founder, Deborah Manning

“At the top end, the number of Kiwi households saying they spend more than $300 per week jumped to 15 per cent, from 12 per cent last year, while at the other end of the spectrum, the percentage of households spending less than $100 per week has dropped to just 11 per cent from 14 per cent previously. “And with inflation also impacting prices for most other goods and services, it’s no shock to see the survey identifying ‘cost of living’ as the number one concern for Kiwis in 2022.”

Food service apps continue to flourish

The survey found usage of food delivery services continues to rise, with several of these services recording strong growth over the past 12 months.

“This follows a strong jump in recorded usage of these apps in the 2021 survey, and food service brands such as HelloFresh, UberEats, My Food Bag and Menulog are all now well established in the New Zealand market,” Mr Holgate said.

“National and regional Covid-19 lockdowns are likely to have played a role in helping drive uptake of these services over recent years, while the convenience and growing range of choice offered by these services are further key factors.

“And with app usage particularly prominent among younger Kiwis and urban-based Kiwis, it’s likely these apps will play an increasingly significant role in the way New Zealanders purchase food over the years ahead.”

The survey found HelloFresh was the most commonly-used food service app, used by 33 per cent of Kiwis in the past 12 months (from 31 per cent previously). Uber Eats was the next most prominent at 31 per cent (unchanged) with My Food Bag coming in third at 20 per cent (from 17 per cent). The survey also found usage was up across several emerging food service brands with Menulog (10 per cent from seven per cent last year), Deliver Easy (eight per cent from six per cent previously) and foodpanda (four per cent from one per cent) the biggest gainers.

Despite increased food service app usage, the survey also found New Zealanders were visiting their local supermarket more regularly with more Kiwis saying ‘top-up’ shopping is now part of their weekly food shopping routine. Only 21 per cent of Kiwis said their household relied solely on a main weekly shop (down from 24 per cent) while the majority of New Zealanders (70 per cent) said they did a main grocery shop and then ‘top-up’ shopping as required.

“Supply chain issues and staff shortages at supermarkets have limited the availability of some products at various times over the last year, and this may be one possible explanation for why ‘top-up’ shopping has become more prevalent over the last 12 months,” Mr Holgate said.

Dietary changes

The survey also uncovered several interesting changes in Kiwis diets, including an increase in the proportion of respondents saying they were vegan or vegetarian.

“The number of respondents saying they identified as vegan rose to five per cent, from two per cent in 2021, while the number of vegetarians also rose, climbing to nine per cent from seven per cent previously,” Mr Holgate said.

“In line with the increased number of New Zealanders favouring plant-based diets, we’ve also seen a continuation of the trend towards lower meat consumption in 2022. As with last year, there are many more Kiwis in the survey flagging a desire to eat less meat (29 per cent), in comparison to those saying they plan to eat more (seven per cent).”

Despite finding many Kiwis indicating they planned to reduce meat intake, the survey also found a drop in the number of New Zealanders who said they were getting their 5+ servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Only 57 per cent of Kiwis said they were ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’ achieving this target, in comparison to 60 per cent in 2021.

Mr Holgate said there were a number of factors driving change in New Zealanders’ diets, with the high cost of some food items now playing an increasingly significant role.

“Health reasons and a desire to reduce the impact on the environment were the two most significant drivers cited by those saying they were planning to reduce meat consumption, however we’ve also seen the price of meat emerge as a further key factor, with this cited by 41 per cent of Kiwis looking to eat less animal protein,” he said.

“Among Kiwis not always getting their 5+ a day, cost was also identified as a major obstacle to eating more fruit and veggies. This was cited by just over half of respondents who fell into this bucket, well ahead of the next most frequently provided reasons which were ‘not having enough time to prepare them’ and ‘not being able to get to the shops often enough’.”

Understanding of food labels

KiwiHarvest founder Deborah Manning said the survey found understanding of food labelling such as ‘Best before’ and ‘Use by’ stickers was largely in line with 12 months ago.

“Increasing understanding of these labels is a key component of the educational work KiwiHarvest undertakes in the food waste space, however, it’s clear more needs to be done so that more people have a full grasp of what these labels mean,” she said.

“For both ‘Best before’ and ‘Use by’ labels, more than a third of Kiwis said they weren’t sure what they meant, or identified them incorrectly. And we need to keep working to reduce this proportion, as better understanding of these labels has the potential to make a substantial difference to the amount of food being wasted in households across Aotearoa.”


About the Survey

Rabobank partnered with KiwiHarvest in 2020 as part of the bank’s wider commitment to work alongside its rural customers to support sustainable food production and its global vison around global food security. The Rabobank-KiwiHarvest food waste survey was first conducted in April 2021 with the findings released in June last year. The 2022 Rabobank/KiwiHarvest Food Waste survey was administered by independent research agency KANTAR and involved interviews with 1509 New Zealanders between April 4 and April 18, 2022. Data collection was nationally representative to ensure that results could be used to measure New Zealanders’ attitudes and behaviours.

KiwiHarvest is a national food rescue organisation that collects surplus and donated food and distributes it throughout New Zealand to community organisations, providing food support to those in need. With branches in Auckland, North Shore, Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown, it is New Zealand’s largest food rescue organisation, servicing demand for 225 registered charities and community groups that includes welfare groups, marae, city missions, local Salvation Army groups and schools. Since its establishment in 2012, it has rescued over 8 million kilos of food and delivered over 23 million meal equivalents to vulnerable Kiwis. For more information about KiwiHarvest, please visit: www.kiwiharvest.org.nz

Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world's leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 120 years experience providing customized banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 36 countries, servicing the needs of about 8.6 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 30 offices throughout New Zealand.


Media contacts:

David Johnston
Marketing & Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 027 477 8153
Email: david.johnston@rabobank.com


Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525 
Email: denise.shaw@rabobank.com