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What Is On South Africa's Plate?

What Is On South Africa's Plate?

A new report from Knorr exposes the eating habits of the South African population and its impact on their health. Click here for The Plate Of the Nation Report (pdf) 12.76 mb.

According to the
Indigo Wellness Index, South Africa is one of the unhealthiest nations in the world. This means that we are eating the wrong foods and our health is suffering.

Knorr would like to help South Africa move towards a better food future by providing stakeholders - government, NGO's, industry, retailers, media and consumers - with information about how and what the nation is eating and how it impacts our health.

The Knorr purpose is to reinvent food for humanity in 3 ways: champion dietary diversity, more plant- based meals and more sustainable ways to grow and produce food.

In line with this purpose, and coupled with helping consumers make better food choices, Knorr commissioned Nielsen – a global measurement and data analytics company - to implement a study on Understanding the Eating Habits of the South African Population, in February 2020, among 1005 respondents aged 16 years and over, across South Africa.

The research objectives were multi-fold and included an understanding of the following:
• Composition of the plate across different meal occasions, demographics and regions.
• Attitudes towards food and the link to health.
• Impact and access to healthy food.

So, what exactly is on our plate?

The current South African plate has a large proportion of meat and starch but is lacking in vegetables.

The current plate consists of 41% starch and 26% meat with only 13% vegetables and the rest composed of fats and oils, dairy and legumes. This is consistent across all regions and demographics. Even kids living at home eat the same as their parents.

Breakfast generally has the largest proportion of starch, while dinner the largest amount of meat. Meat is eaten on average of 4 times per week, with poultry and red meat being the most popular. Starch is eaten 6 times a week, with bread, rice, potatoes and Mielie pap the most prevalent.
Vegetable consumption is also 4 times a week, with cheaper fruits and vegetables consumed the most.

82% think that it has become easier to find healthy food within the past 5 years. But, only 52% think healthy food is affordable.

84% of South Africans are meat eaters, 14% are flexitarians, 2% are vegetarians, 0,3% are pescatarians and 0,1% are vegans.

How do we fix the plate of the nation?

The Eatwell plate composition as defined by the University of Cambridge and the NHS says that our plates should have the following 33% vegetables, 32% starch, 15% dairy, 12% meat and 8% fats and oils.

By making small changes to our plate, we can help shape the health of the nation. Whilst it is relevant to 58 million people, how each one of us changes our plate is personal, and this will have a positive ripple effect on our families and our communities. It all starts with small, delicious changes.

We are fortunate that we have a rich history of food and agriculture; we can learn from how our forefathers ate. Crops rooted in heritage can once again have a place on our plate. Many of these nutritional crops were identified in Knorr and WWF's Future 50 Foods report, and include millet, cowpeas, bambara groundnut and mung beans, amongst others.

Chrislynn Ramdeo of Knorr explains, "we need to change the plate of our nation because as Winston Churchill once said: healthy citizens are the greatest asset a country can have. Knorr is encouraging South Africans to choose to eat better by championing dietary diversity and more plant- based meals. Knorr wants to make healthy eating more accessible for all."

About Knorr

Knorr's passion for better cooking and eating goes right back to the brand's beginnings in 1838. Knorr is proud to be the 8th most chosen FMCG brand in the world (according to Kantar World Panel) and Unilever's largest food brand, with a yearly sales value of over 4 billion Euros.

Knorr products are sold in nearly 90 countries around the world and its flavours are enjoyed by more than 2.8 billion people each year. The brand is committed to providing easy-to-prepare,

flavourful recipes for all diets and occasions, which it publishes on its website and on the back of its products.

Its purpose is to champion better ways to cook and eat for a more sustainable food future, believing that by sourcing its ingredients sustainably, food made with Knorr tastes better. That's why Knorr grows its ingredients naturally, out there under the sun, in rich, fertile soils and with care for the environment. Find out more at

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide.

Nielsen is divided into two business units. Nielsen Global Media, the arbiter of truth for media markets, provides media and advertising industries with unbiased and reliable metrics that create a shared understanding of the industry required for markets to function. Nielsen Global Connect provides consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers with accurate, actionable information and insights and a complete picture of the complex and changing marketplace that companies need to innovate and grow.

Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what's happening now, what's happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world's population.
For more information, visit

About WWF

WWF is one of the world's largest independent conservation organisations, active in nearly 100 countries. WWF's supporters – more than five million of them worldwide – are helping to restore nature and to tackle the main causes of nature's decline, particularly the food system and climate change. WWF is fighting to ensure a world with thriving habitats and species, and to change hearts and minds so it becomes unacceptable to overuse our planet's resources.
Find out more at

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