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Potato chips and soft drinks: doubly irresistible?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=19,436).

Salty processed snacks and sweet soft drinks– it’s a dietary double-whammy to dismay nutritionists and health experts everywhere. Yet the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that Aussies 14+ who snack on potato chips, corn chips, Twisties and Cheezels in an average seven days more often than not also drink flavoured soft drinks in the same period.

Over the last five years, potato chips’ status as the nation’s favourite snack food has remained unchallenged, with 42% of the population (or 8.2 million people) now eating them in any given seven days (up from 41% as of 12 months ago). Furthermore, 62% of potato-chip snackers also consume some kind of soft drink during that time — well above the national average (48%).

Corn chips and other salty snacks (Twisties, Cheezels, popcorn etc) also seem to go hand in hand with elevated incidence of soft-drink consumption. Sixty-two percent of people who eat corn chips, and 70% of those who snack on Twisties, Cheezels etc, consume soft drinks in an average seven days.

Incidence of soft-drink consumption among Aussies who eat different kinds of snacks


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=19,436).

While it’s tempting to assume that eating savoury snacks causes one to develop a thirst for something sweet to counteract the saltiness, this does not explain the fact that Aussies who snack on chocolate bars are even more likely (65%) than those who eat potato chips and corn chips to consume at least one soft drink in an average week.

Or does it? After all, Roy Morgan data shows that people who snack on chocolate bars in an average week are also markedly more likely than the average Australian to snack on potato chips, corn chips and other salty snacks like Twisties and Cheezels. And so the snacking cycle continues…

Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The news that potato crisps are still Australia’s favourite snack, eaten by more than 8 million people in an average seven days, can be seen as somewhat concerning from a health perspective – especially when sugary soft drinks are also part of the dietary equation.

“While it’s true that snack-food brands have made the effort to introduce low-salt and/or diet variations to their product ranges, these have not proven as popular as the originals. In fact, our findings show that people who snack on crisps, corn chips and the like are less likely than the average Aussie to agree with health statements such as ‘I always think of the number of calories in the food I’m eating’, ‘A low-fat diet is a way of life for me’ and ‘I restrict how much I eat of fattening foods’.

“Not surprisingly, given this relaxed attitude to health issues, it’s young men and women under 25 who tend to be the most avid consumers of these salty snacks. Consumption only really drops off among the over-50s, an age when one’s health inevitably becomes more of a preoccupation.

“It’s a complex situation. On one hand, snack food and soft drinks regularly attract negative media scrutiny for their less-than-nutritious qualities; and on the other, their popularity is impossible to deny. To ensure their continued success, manufacturers of these products must remain alert to any shifting attitudes that could affect how Australian consumers see and consume their favourite snacks — and with the help of Roy Morgan Research’s in-depth consumer profiles, they can do just that.”

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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%