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City vs country meat buying habits


Fresh meat is central to most Australians’ diets, with a growing proportion buying it in any given week. While this growth is evident among country and city residents, there are some key differences in where consumers buy meat.

While supermarkets are the top source for fresh meat in Australia, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research show that city dwellers are more likely than rural residents to buy their meat at specialty retailers, such as butchers, markets, and delicatessens.

In the year to June 2014, similar proportions of grocery buyers in the city, 73 per cent, and country, 77 per cent, bought fresh meat in an average seven days, up from 72 per cent and 74 per cent respectively in 2010.

But while a higher proportion of country shoppers buy fresh meat at the supermarket than their capital city counterparts – 65 per cent versus 56 per cent – city residents are more likely to diversify.

Not only do more city shoppers buy meat at a butcher – 23 per cent versus 20 per cent – they are also more likely to buy it from markets (three per cent versus one per cent) and delicatessens (just over two per cent versus just under two per cent).

While grocery buyers in the city are more likely than rural shoppers to buy their fresh meat from specialty retailers, there has been little change in the proportions of people doing so over the past five years.

On the other hand, the proportion of country and city shoppers buying fresh meat from supermarkets has grown. In the year to June 2010, 59 per cent of shoppers from the country and 53 per cent of those based in the city bought fresh meat from supermarkets in an average seven day period – noticeably lower than the current figures mentioned above.

Geoffrey Smith of Roy Morgan Research, supermarkets appear to be benefitting the most from this trend.

“While our data shows that people living in capital cities shop for meat in a wider range of stores than country residents, the percentage doing so has remained relatively stable since 2010, whereas purchasing fresh meat at the supermarket has become more popular – as it has among rural shoppers, too,” said Smith.

“Obviously, someone living in the country has less choice as to where they buy their fresh meat, and so supermarkets may simply be their easiest (or only) option, but this doesn’t explain the growing proportion of city shoppers opting to buy their meat at the supermarket despite a plethora of specialist butchers, delis and markets to choose from.

“Even at supermarket level, there are differences between country and city residents – the former are more likely to buy their fresh meat from Woolworths, IGA, and Aldi supermarkets, while the latter are more likely to get it from Coles or Foodland. Indeed, this tends to be the pattern for all fresh produce categories (fruit and vegetables, bread, deli items and seafood),” he said.

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