While most of the nation will be firing up their barbecues and putting their drinks on ice in anticipation of Australia Day this Thursday (26th January), new research from Mintel reveals that many Aussies will be foregoing tradition by grilling vegan steaks while enjoying a gluten-free beer in celebration of the day.

Indeed, over the past few years the number of veggie and vegan foods available in Australia has soared. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), between 2014 and 2016 there was a 92% increase in the number of food products launched in Australia carrying a vegan claim, and an 8% increase in the number of products launched carrying a vegetarian claim.

As many as one in eight (12%) food products launched in Australia in 2016 carried a vegetarian claim, while 6% held a vegan claim. The soar in veggie and vegan friendly launches comes as many Australian consumers have a growing appetite for meat-free foods. In fact, one in seven (14%) said that they avoided or intended to avoid red meat in 2016.

Laura Jones, Trend and Innovation Consultant at Mintel, said:

“Although Australia is still one of the largest meat eating populations globally, health and environmental concerns, along with cost have changed Australians’ attitudes when it comes to meat consumption. Australians have become more mindful in recent years of the amount of meat and the frequency of which they eat meat.”

But it’s not just the barbecue that is receiving a health kick, it seems the bottle shops too are showcasing an increasing number of alcoholic drinks with healthy attributes. While just 2% of alcoholic drinks launched in Australia in 2015 held a low, no or reduced sugar claim, this increased to 7% of alcohol launches in 2016. In the same time period, the proportion of these drinks launched with a low, no or reduced carb claim rose from 1% to 4%, while the proportion holding a gluten-free claim rose from 1% to 3%.

But while there are more healthy alternatives available, many drinkers in Australia are choosing to cut-down on the grog altogether. Mintel’s Consumer Metro Study 2016 showed that only 11% of Australians aged 18 and over are spending more on alcohol at home compared to a year ago, compared to 27% who are spending less. This trend is more exaggerated when going out, with 7% spending more compared to 35% spending less.

As a result, it seems beer sales are falling flat with Mintel Market Sizes data revealing that beer sales have been in decline in Australia from as far back as 2009. Volume consumption per capita is forecast to fall to 48.09 litres in 2017, down from 60.73 litres in 2009.

“Beer consumption is continuing on a long-term downward trend in Australia as consumers drink less alcohol generally, challenging brands to look for new ways to boost market value.” Laura adds.

While meat and regular alcoholic drinks may be off the menu for some this Australia Day, the hottest drink trend in Australia this summer is kombucha. Australia played host to the second highest number of kombucha drink launches globally in 2016, just behind the USA, according to Mintel GNPD.

And it seems these drinks are showcasing their health-enhancing credentials. More than three in four (78%) launches of these drinks in 2016 featured an organic claim, with half (51%) claiming to be gluten-free and 16% featuring a low, no or reduced sugar formulation.

Jodie Minotto, Senior Global Food Trends Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Kombucha is proving to be far more than a fad and its popularity is gradually spreading amongst health-conscious consumers globally. The Australian market is notable for the high profile of recent launches in the lead up to the summer season of 2016/2017. Kombucha is proving to be a beverage that defies definition and will ultimately compete with other functional and probiotic beverages. While, in essence, it is a tea drink, many brands use fruit juices and superfoods to enhance health credentials. Expansion into other fermented beverages such as kefir and drinking vinegar is emerging as an innovation pathway for kombucha brands looking for growth.

Press review copies of the research and interviews with Laura Jones and Jodie Minotto are available on request from the press office.

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