Cost and affordability of healthy food in rural South Australia

Paul Ward, John Coveney, Fiona Verity, Patricia Carter, Michelle Schilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: As in many other countries, Australian consumers have recently had to accommodate increases in costs of basic food, and during the financial year 2007-2008 overall food prices rose by nearly 4%. Food costs are mediating factors in food choice, especially for low-income groups, where food security is often tenuous. There are reports that rural populations may have higher levels of food insecurity, although the evidence is often contradictory. Methods: To assess cost and affordability of food in rural areas this study used the Healthy Food Basket (HFB) methodology, which has been applied in a number of settings. The HFBs were costed at supermarkets and stores in different locations with different degrees of rurality. Results: Compared with metropolitan areas, healthy food is more expensive in rural areas; costs are even higher in more remote areas. The overall affordability of HFB in rural areas was not significantly different from metro areas. The main difference concerned low socio-economic status (SES) groups, where the proportion of household income spent on the HFB was three times that of higher SES groups. Conclusions: The unaffordability of healthy food, or 'food stress' in low SES groups is a concern, especially when this group carries the greatest burden of diet-related disease. Findings suggest that there is a need to consider both rurality and SES when developing policy responses to decrease the cost and increase the affordability of healthy foods in rural and remote areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1938
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalRural and Remote Health
Volume12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Food costs
  • Food stress
  • Healthy food basket
  • South Australia

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