Food availability, cost disparity and improvement in relation to accessibility and remoteness in Queensland


Statewide Health Promotion Unit, Public Health Services, GPO Box 48, Brisbane, Queensland 4001. Fax: (07) 3220 0708; e-mail:


This study is the first to describe disparity and change in the food supply between metropolitan, rural and remote stores by Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA)1 category. A total of 92 stores (97% response rate) within five aggregate ARIA categories participated throughout Queensland in 2000. There was a strong association between ARIA category and the cost of the basket of basic foods, with prices being significantly higher (20% and 31% respectively) in the ‘remote’ and ‘very remote’ categories than in the ‘highly accessible’ category. The association with ARIA was less marked for fruit and vegetables than for other food groups, but not for tobacco and take-away food items. Basic food items were less available in the more remote stores. Over the past two years, relative improvements in food prices have been seen in stores in the ‘very remote’ category, with observed increases less than the consumer price index (CPI) for food. Some factors which may have contributed to this improvement are discussed.