Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Fast-food nation - takeaway sales soar

Annual spending reaches $1.5 billion, an increase of 25 per cent in just four years.

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Kiwis ate their way through $1.5 billion worth of takeaways last year - a leap of more than 9 per cent on the previous 12 months.

That equates to about $330 - enough to buy 63 Big Macs - for every man, woman and child in the country.

The spending is detailed in a report on the state of the hospitality industry, released today by the Restaurant Association and the Auckland University of Technology.

It shows takeaway sales have risen 25 per cent in four years, prompting warnings from health and budgeting experts.

The report did not provide a breakdown by type of takeaway outlet.

Although traditional fish and chip shops and burger bars are still big players, new concepts such as Mexican takeaways are giving consumers more choice.

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said many Kiwis were choosing takeaways over restaurant meals to meet lower budgets, and busier lifestyles meant people had less time to cook at home.

TV chef Michael Van de Elzen, who contributed to the report and promotes healthy takeaways on his series The Food Truck, said spending only $20 on a takeaway meal for four should raise alarm bells.

"You've got to worry about what's going into that," the father-of-two said.

The Mangere Budgeting Services Trust chief executive, Darryl Evans, said unhealthy and cheap takeaway outlets were often concentrated in lower socio-economic areas, a concern echoed by Fight the Obesity Epidemic spokeswoman Dr Robyn Toomath.

Mr Evans said that while food from larger chains such as McDonald's was often unaffordable for families on tight budgets, smaller "lunchbox" takeaway bars offered full meals at incredibly low prices.

"For example, in Mangere you can buy a $10 fish-and-chip pack which will give you four fish, $4 of chips, four sausages and four potato fritters.

"You'd find it very hard to feed a family of four for that price [at the supermarket]," Mr Evans said.

Dr Toomath said the higher concentration of takeaway outlets and convenience stores in lower socio-economic areas was probably one part of "the relationship we see between socio-economic status and weight".

Latest available figures from the Health Ministry show about one million New Zealand adults and 10 per cent of children were obese last year.

Katherine Rich of the Food and Grocery Council said buying in-season fruit and vegetables was always useful for people on a budget.

In total, New Zealanders spent almost $7 billion on dining and socialising last year, the report says.

Catering services recorded the biggest boost in business, with a 9.2 per cent increase in sales.

The report was compiled using data from bodies including Statistics New Zealand, daily deal site GrabOne and American Express, with collaboration and discussion from the Restaurant Association and the AUT School of Hospitality and Tourism.

In a tough economic climate, more than 53 per cent of people were tempted to try new cafes and restaurants with offers from sites such as Grab One, the report said.

Grab One is part of the APN group, which also includes the Herald.

Eating out

* $3.49b - Cafes and restaurants
* $1.49b - Takeaway food services
* $668m - Catering services
* $1.05b - Pubs, taverns and bars $284mClubs
* $6.98b - NZ total.
Source: Hospitality Report 2013, Restaurant Association and AUT

- APNZ

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