2017/2018 POF: fresh food and culinary preparations prevail in the national diet

April 03, 2020 10h00 AM | Last Updated: April 22, 2020 02h37 PM

About half (49.5%) of the total calories available for consumption in Brazilian households come from natural or minimally processed foods, 22.3% from processed culinary ingredients, 9.8% from processed foods and 18.4% from ultra-processed foods.

The evolution of household food availability in Brazil, estimated based on the POFs carried out in 2002-2003, 2008-2009 and 2017-1018, indicates that natural or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients are losing ground to processed foods and, above all, for ultra-processed foods.

In the North and Northeast Regions, in rural areas and among low-income families, the share of natural or minimally processed foods and culinary ingredients was well above the country's average, exceeding three quarters of the household food supply.

In the South and Southeast Regions and among families with higher incomes, although fresh or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients still predominate, ultra-processed foods already represent more than one fifth of the calories acquired. In the North, Northeast and Central-West Regions, ultra-processed foods correspond, respectively, to 11.4%, 14.4% and 16.6% of total calories.

Regarding the annual per capita household food acquisition in Brazil in 2017-2018, the following food groups stand out: Beverages and infusions (52,475 kg), Dairy products (32,211 kg), Cereals and legumes (27,757 kg), Fruits (26,414 kg), Green Vegetables (23,775 kg) and Meat (20,762 kg).

Between the 2002-2003 and 2017-2018 editions of POF, the average annual per capita amount of rice acquired in Brazilian households fell 37%, varying from 31,578 kg to 19,763 kg in the period. The average per capita acquisitions of beans, in turn, fell by 52% in the same period, varying from 12,394 kg in 2002-2003 to 5,908 kg in the 2017-2018 POF.

These and other pieces of information are part of the Dietary Assessment of Household Food Supply in Brazil of the Consumer Expenditure Survey - POF 2017-2018, as a result of a partnership between the IBGE and the Ministry of Health. The support material of the survey is on the right of the page.

Between 2002 and 2018, Brazilians have bought less rice and beans and more eggs for household consumption

A historical analysis by selected products revealed that rice and beans, a traditional composition of meals in Brazil, showed a considerable reduction in the quantities purchased for home consumption. While in the 2002-2003 POF, the average per capita quantity of rice purchased  had been 31,578 kg, in the 2017-2018 POF it was 19,763 kg, down 37%. Average bean acquisitions, in turn, went from 12.394 kg in 2002-2003 to 5.908 kg in 2017-2018, a reduction of 52%.

Other products such as milk and flour also recorded a significant decrease. Cassava flour (2,332 kg) and wheat flour (2,229 kg) are the two selected products that registered the highest percentage decrease in the average per capita acquisition between the 2002-2003 and 2017-2018 POFs, 70% and 56% respectively. The product Milk, in turn, had a reduction, between the three surveys, of nearly 42%, going from 44.405 kg in 2002-2003 to 25.808 kg in 2017-2018.

Other products worth mentioning are sugars. Granulated sugar rose from an average per capita purchase of 12,162 kg in 2002-2003 to 6,048 kg in 2017-2018, down 50%.

Among the products that recorded an increase in their average per capita quantities acquired between the periods when national POFs were carried out, Eggs (94%), convenience foods and industrial mixtures (56%), Alcoholic beverages (19%) and non-alcoholic drinks (17%) stand out.

Annual per capita househod food acquisition, by selected products - Brazil - 2002/2018
Selected Products Annual per capita househod food acquisition (kg)
POF/2002-2003 POF/2008-2009 POF/2017-2018
Rice 31,578 26,499 19,763
Beans 12,394 9,121 5,908
Onions 3,471 3,234 3,104
Tomatoes 5,000 4,916 4,209
Potatoes 5,271 4,037 4,017
Banana 7,008 7,678 7,078
Orange 4,692 5,437 4,299
Cassava flour 7,766 5,330 2,332
Wheat flour 5,083 3,397 2,229
Noodles 4,286 4,143 3,117
French roll 12,333 12,529 9,491
Beef 16,891 17,035 13,352
Pork 5,694 5,551 4,880
Chicken 13,572 13,015 12,240
Eggs 1,716 3,217 3,328
Milk 44,405 37,092 25,808
Granulated sugar 12,162 8,038 6,048
Refined sugar 6,106 3,160 3,704
Alcoholic beverages 5,670 6,798 6,724
Non-alcoholic beverages 36,415 40,826 42,723
Convenience food and industrial mixtures 2,560 3,506 3,992
Source: IBGE, Diretoria de Pesquisas, Coordenação de Trabalho e Rendimento, Pesquisa de Orçamentos Familiares 2002-2003/2008-2009/2017-2018.
Note: Products acquired in liquid form had their measure converted to kilograms, considering volume and weight as the same.

Acquisition of cereals, flour and dairy products fell in all income quintiles

In the analysis by income, the groups of Cereals and legumes, Green vegetables, Flours, starches and pasta and Dairy products showed decreases in the average quantities purchased for home consumption in all quintiles of average monthly household earnings in the comparison between the 2017-2018 POF with the two previous survey editions ( 2002-2003 and 2008-2009).

The Fishery group, in the 2017-2018 POF, also showed falls in all quinitles, the largest one in the first two (42% and 44%, respectively), with the exception of the last and highest income quintile, where an increase was identified around 13% between 2002-2003 (3.748 kg) and 2008-2009 (4.233 kg), but a drop of 33% between 2008-2009 and 2017-2018 (2.835 kg).

Between the 2002-2003 and 2017-2018 surveys, for the group Beverages and infusions, it was observed that there were increases in the first three income quintiles (83%, 46% and 10%, respectively). However, there were declines in the two largest quinitles between 2008-2009 and 2017-2018 (6% and 5%, respectively).

Annual per capita household acquisition of cereals is higher in rural areas

Regarding the annual per capita household food acquisition in Brazil in 2017-2018, the following food groups stand out: Beverages and infusions (52.475 kg), Dairy products (32.211 kg), Cereals and legumes (27.757 kg), Fruits (26.414 kg), Green vegetables (23.775 kg) and Meat (20.762 kg).

Concerning the area, in the urban context, the annual per capita average of the acquisition of the group Beverages and infusions (56.807 kg) was about 8% higher than the national average, while in the rural area (27.415 kg), the average was 48% lower. In the group of Baked Goods, the difference between the national average (17.723 kg) and urban (18.706 kg, approximately 6% more) and rural results (12.038 kg, approximately 32% less than the national average and 36% less than urban area's rate) was also significant.

There was also a significant difference in the Fruit group: in the urban situation the per capita average  was 27.692 kg, about 5% higher than the national average, while in the rural situation it was 19.026 kg, 31% less compared to the urban situation and 28% in reference to the national average. In Cereals and legumes, the estimates showed an inverse trend: while in the urban situation, the average of 25.595 kg was around 8% lower, in the rural situation, the average of 40.268 kg found for the Cereals and legumes was approximately 45% higher.

South Region has highest averages of annual per capita acquisition in seven food groups

Among the Major Regions, the South Region presented averages above the national and other regions' results for seven of the 17 groups: Dairy products (48.271 kg), Fruits (31.931 kg), Green vegetables (31.333 kg), Meats (25.566 kg), Sugars, sweets and confectionery products (15.806 kg), oils and fats (7.735 kg) and salts and condiments (6.492 kg). In the case of the Meat group, the highlight is the Central-West Region, which presented an average of 24.503 kg, also having a significant result in the Cereals and Legumes group (32.661 kg), both above the average for Brazil.

The North Region, as already observed in previous surveys, stands out in the average acquisition of Fishery (9,855 kg), being much higher than the other regions and the national average (2,796 kg). The groups Poultry and eggs, Flour, starch and pasta and Coconuts, chestnuts and walnuts presented the highest averages in the North Region, 19.907 kg, 17.889 kg and 9.530 kg, respectively. In the Southeast Region, the averages of acquisitions of Dairy products (38.449 kg), Green vegetables (25.011 kg), Baked products (18.170 kg) and Convenience foods and industrial mixtures (5.118 kg) stand out, all of them above the national averages. In the Northeast the highlights are the groups of Beverages and infusions (67.517 kg, 29% above the national average) and Cereals and legumes (31.906 kg). On the other hand, also in the Northeast Region, the lowest per capita household purchase of the Meat group (18.664 kg) was registered, about 10% less than the national average of 20.762 kg.

Lower income ranges buy more cereals, flour and fishery

In the analysis by income classes, among the product groups, Cereals and legumes (30,505 kg and 30,086 kg), Flour, starch and pasta (12,897 kg and 12,245 kg) and Fishery (3,359 kg and 3,091 kg) were the only ones that presented averages above that of the total for Brazil (27,757 kg, 11,935 kg and 2,796 kg, respectively) in the two lowest income ranges.

For some product groups, the average per capita acquisition in the highest total income class exceeds the average of the total Brazil by more than 70%: Dairy products (75%), Grenn vegetables (87%), Beverages and infusions (115%), Fruits (125%) and Convenience foods and industrial mixtures (187%).

Half of total calories available for household consumption come from fresh or minimally processed food 

The assessment of household food supply was based on the NOVA classification, which divides food according to the extent and purpose of industrial processing to which it was subjected before it was purchased by individuals. This same classification was also considered for the preparation of the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population, published by the Ministry of Health in 2014.

The NOVA classification comprises four groups: natural or minimally processed food (obtained directly from plants and animals, such as: rice and other cereals, legumes, meat, chestnuts, nuts, pasta and milk), processed culinary ingredients (substances extracted from the previous group and used in culinary preparations, such as: salt, sugar, vegetable oils and vinegars), processed foods (manufactured with the addition of items from the two previous groups, such as: canned vegetables, tomato extract, beef jerky, cheeses, bread rolls and fermented alcoholic beverages) and ultra-processed foods (manufactured with various ingredients and using industrial techniques, such as: cookies, ice cream, candies, sweets, cake mixes, instant and/or frozen foods, packaged snacks, soft drinks, lunch meat, sliced bread and distilled alcoholic beverages).

About 49.5% of the calories available for consumption in Brazilian households come from natural or minimally processed foods, 22.3% from processed culinary ingredients, 9.8% from processed foods and 18.4% from ultra-processed foods.

Among natural and minimally processed foods, Rice accounted for 15.6% of total calories, followed by Milk with 5%, 4.6%, Poultry and, with 4.3% , Beans. Of the processed culinary ingredients, Vegetable oil corresponded to almost 11% of the total calories, followed by Sugar, with almost 10%. Among processed foods, the greatest contribution to total calories was Bread (6.7% of total calories), followed by Cheese (1.4%). Among the ultra-processed foods, Lunch meat (2.5%), Cookies and sweets (2.1%), Salty packaged snacks (1.8%), Margarine (1.8%), Sweet cakes and pies ( 1.5%), Sliced breads (1.3%), Sweets in general (1.3%), Sweetened carbonated drinks (1.2%) and Chocolate (1%).

Relative share of food groups and sub-groups in the total calories determinaded by household food supply, by urban or rural households Brazil - period 2017-2018
Food groups and sub-groups Relative share (%)
Total Household area
Urban Rural
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0
Natural or minimally processed food
49.5 47.7 57.9
Rice 15.6 14.7 20.1
Milk 5.0 5.1 4.5
Poultry 4.6 4.5 5.3
Beans 4.3 4.2 5.0
Beef 3.4 3.5 2.6
Fruits 2.8 2.9 1.9
Macarroni 2.7 2.7 2.7
Corn flour, corn meal and others 2.0 1.7 3.3
Cassava flour 1.9 1.5 3.7
Wheat flour 1.8 1.6 3.0
Roots and tubers 1.2 1.2 1.3
Eggs 0.9 0.9 1.0
Vegetables 0.9 1.0 0.7
Pork 0.8 0.8 0.9
Fish 0.5 0.4 0.8
Corn. oat and other cereals 0.4 0.4 0.6
Offal 0.3 0.3 0.2
Others 0.4 0.4 0.4
Processed culinary ingredients
22.3 21.7 25.3
Vegetal oil 10.9 10.9 11.0
Sugar 9.9 9.3 12.8
Animal fat 0.7 0.8 0.5
Starch 0.7 0.7 0.8
Others 0.1 0.1 0.1
Processed food
9.8 10.7 5.5
Bread 6.7 7.3 3.7
Cheese 1.4 1.6 0.5
Beef jerky 0.7 0.8 0.7
Fermented alcoholic beverages 0.7 0.7 0.3
Others 0.3 0.4 0.3
Ultra-processed foods
18.4 19.8 11.3
Lunch meats 2.5 2.6 1.9
Cookies 2.1 2.2 1.5
Crackers 1.8 1.8 1.8
Margarine 1.8 1.9 1.2
Sweet cake and pies 1.5 1.6 0.8
Sliced bread 1.3 1.5 0.4
Sweets in general 1.3 1.4 1.0
Carbonated sweetened drinks 1.2 1.3 0.6
Chocolate 1.0 1.1 0.5
Pizza. lasagna or pastry dough 0.5 0.6 0.1
Ready meals 0.7 0.7 0.2
Non-carbonated sweetened drinks 0.5 0.5 0.3
Dairy drinks 0.4 0.5 0.2
Ice cream 0.4 0.5 0.1
Ready sauce 0.4 0.4 0.2
Distilled alcoholic beverages 0.2 0.2 0.1
Others 0.9 0.9 0.4

The participation of natural and minimally processed foods was higher in rural areas than in urban areas (57.9% against 47.7% of total calories), as well as the participation of processed culinary ingredients (25.3% against 21, 7%). On the other hand, both the share of processed and ultra-processed foods were higher in urban areas (11.3% and 19.8%, respectively) than in rural areas (5.5% and 10.7%, respectively).

Share of natural foods in the total available calories is higher in the North and Northeast

Among the Major Regions, the share of natural or minimally processed foods in the total calories of food supply was higher in the North and Northeast (58.2% and 54.5%, respectively), intermediate in the Central-West (50.7%) and lower in the South and Southeast (47.3% and 44.9%, respectively). The share of processed culinary ingredients and processed foods in the total calories recorded lower changes, standing, respectively, between 20%/25% and 8%/10% in all regions. The share of ultra-processed foods in the total calories of food supply was higher in the South and Southeast (22.0% and 21.4%, respectively), intermediate in the Central-West (16.6%) and lower in the North and Northeast (11.4% and 14.4%, respectively).

Some food sub-groups stood out for their higher caloric contribution in certain regions of the country. In the natural or minimally processed foods group, it was the case of cassava flour and fish in the North; beans, corn flour, corn meal and others in the Northeast; rice in the Central-West; and wheat flour in the South. Regarding the processed culinary ingredients group, the highlights were vegetable oil and animal fat in the Central-West, and sugar in the Northeast.

In the processed food group, the highlights were bread in the North and Northeast, and cheese in the South and Southeast. Among the ultra-processed food group, salty snacks are more consumed in the Northeast and margarine in the Northeast and Southeast, while the other sub-groups follow the pattern noticed for the ultra-processed food: higher contribution in the caloric availability in the South and Southeast, intermediate in the Central-West and lower in the North and Northeast.

Share of ultra-processed foods in the total available calories increases with the income

The share in the total calories of natural or minimally processed foods and of processed culinary ingredients decreases with the rise of income, in the case of natural or minimally processed foods (from 55.6% in the first fifth to 44.2% in the last) and of processed culinary ingredients (from 23.4% in the first fifth to 20.0% in the last). Processed and ultra-processed food increase their contribution in the total calories with the increase of income. This increase is moderate in processed foods, from 8.4% in the first quintile to 11.1% in the last, and very high in ultra-processed foods, from 12.5% to 24.7%.

Rice contribution to the total available calories drops by half between the 1st and 5th quintiles of income, while fruit figures double

The variation standard of the food supply by income range was not constant in the sub-groups of natural or minimally processed foods. The sub-groups that have the tendency to decrease their contribution to the total calories with the increase of income include: rice (from 20.1% in the first quintile of income, to 10.9% in the last), beans (from 5.4% to 3.4%), cassava flour (from 3.6% to 0.8%) and corn flour, corn meal and others (from 3.1% to 1.5%). The sub-groups that increase their contribution to the total calories with the increase of income include: milk (from 4.3% in the first quintile of income, to 5.4% in the last), beef (from 2.7% to 3.9%), and fruits (from 1.8% to 3.9%).

Regarding the sub-group of processed culinary ingredients, with the increase of income there was a reduction of the caloric contribution of sugar (from 11.5% in the first quintile of income, to 7.5% in the last) and increase in the contribution of animal fat (from 0.4% to 1.2%). In the sub-group of processed foods, the rise of income leads to an increase of the caloric contribution of cheese (from 0.5% in the first quintile of income, to 2.7% in the last) and to a decrease of contribution of breads (from 6.8% to 5.9%).

Except for two sub-groups of the ultra-processed foods (salty snacks and margarine), all the others increase their contribution to the total calories with the increase of income.

Share of natural foods in total available calories decreases

In the comparison of the results of the last three surveys, by periods (2002-2003/2008-2009 and 2008-2008/2017-2018), there is a decrease in the percentage of energy related to natural or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients, as well as an increase in the percentage related to processed and ultra-processed foods.

In the group of natural or minimally processed foods, beans, rice, milk and wheat flour follow the group evolution, decreasing their contribution in the household supply in both periods, being more intense in the first one. The cassava flour share decreases regularly in both periods. Increasing contributions in food supply are noticed in fruits in both periods and in poultry meat in the second period.

In the group of processed culinary ingredients, vegetable oil and animal fat follow the group evolution, with a decrease of contribution in the household food supply, more intense in the first period, while sugar’s contribution decreases regularly in both periods.

In the group of processed foods, bread, cheese and fermented alcoholic beverages follow the group evolution, with an increase of contribution to the household food supply in the first period and with no or little changes in the second period.

In the group of ultra-processed foods, most sub-groups show an increased contribution to the household food supply, with a higher tendency in the first period. Sweetened carbonated drinks have a growing contribution in the first period and a decreasing one in the second.

Although there was a constant increase of contribution of ultra-processed foods in the household food supply over the three POFs, there is a deceleration of this pattern.

The Food guideline for the Brazilian population, of 2014, has the golden rule that recommends basing the eating habits on natural or minimally processed foods and avoiding ultra-processed foods.