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Chinese still our favourite cuisine, but for how much longer?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2015 (n=15,367).

More than seven out of every 10 Australians 14+ say they like Chinese cuisine, making it the most popular cuisine in the country. Although this figure has fallen since 2011, it maintains a convincing lead over other international cuisines — for now. The thing is, while our taste for Sweet-and-Sour Pork, Chow Mein, Fried Rice and the like has slipped slightly, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that a growing number of us are enjoying cuisines from other countries.

Between January 2011 and December 2015, the proportion of Aussies who reported liking Chinese cuisine declined from 73.6% to 70.4%. While not a huge drop, it is the only cuisine in the Top 10 that lost, rather than gained, popularity.

In second place, Italian food is now enjoyed by 62.9% of the population, marginally up on 60.8% in 2011. In third and fourth places, Thai and Indian cuisine also gained in popularity over the last five years, while Mexican (42.6%, up from 38.5%) and Japanese (37.9%, up from 33.3%) appear to be on the up and up.

Australia’s 10 favourite international cuisines


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2015 (n=15,367).

While the figures above show which international cuisines are most enjoyed by the overall population, some striking variations are revealed when we examine the cuisines favoured by different generations*. Chinese tops the list for all generations, but beyond that, the landscape changes.

For one thing, the popularity of most of the cuisines in the Top 10 cannot be attributed to the Pre-Boomer generation. Pre-Boomers are dramatically less likely than the other generations to enjoy eating Italian, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Other Asian, Lebanese and Greek cuisines. An above-average proportion of them like Chinese food (72.1%), and they inch in ahead of Gen X for French cuisine.

Generation X is over-represented among Australians who like Italian, Greek, Thai and Lebanese. Gen Y, in contrast, are the group most likely to enjoy eating Japanese, Other Asian, Indian, Mexican and French food – which works well with the fact that they are also the generation most likely to dine out at cafes, licensed and BYO restaurants, and order home-delivered food!

**NB: Roy Morgan ‘Generations’ definitions: Pre-Boomers — Born pre-1946; Baby Boomers — born 1946-1960; Generation X — born 1961-1975; Generation Y — born 1976-1990; Generation Z — born 1991-2005.

Norman Morris, Communications Industry Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“One of the benefits of living in such a multicultural nation as Australia is the huge variety of international cuisines available. Chinese continues to be the population’s favourite, which is not so surprising, considering that it’s been part of Australia’s culinary tradition since the Gold Rush, when Chinese migrants set up cookhouses in the goldfields.

“Italian cuisine occupies a similarly well-established place in our hearts, having been popularised by post-war Italian migrants, while the other cuisines not only reflect the evolving ethnic make-up of Aussie society in the 21st century, but also cater to our ongoing obsession with all things food-related (the continued popularity of cooking reality TV shows being just one example of this).

“Restaurateurs, eatery chains, takeaway joints and food brands wishing to reach the most responsive consumers need to stay abreast of these social trends and how they vary between generations. At an even more detailed level, Roy Morgan’s in-depth consumer profiling system Helix Personas reveals that members of the upwardly mobile, ‘New Cool School’ Persona consistently over-index for liking international cuisine, being more likely than any other Persona to enjoy Japanese, Indian, Other Asian, Lebanese, Mexican, French and Greek food. Often young, sociable, with cash to spend, these inner-city dwellers take pride in knowing all the hottest spots to eat…”  

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%