Coke, chocs and crisps top our shopping lists
Fizzy drinks, chocolate and crisps outsell cupboard staples such as bread and milk in Irish grocery stores.
A new report on the top-selling products in Ireland reveals that Coca Cola, Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Tayto, Lucozade, 7UP, Walkers and Jacobs are all in the top 10 bestselling food brands.
Despite the country's growing obesity crisis, our appetite for junk food is undiminished as we spend more on branded confectionery than we do on basic supplies such as milk and bread.
The Checkout Top 100 Brands report produced together with market analysts Nielsen found Irish consumers spend more on Coca Cola than any other grocery brand.
Avonmore Milk and Brennans Bread make it into second and third place in a top 10 dominated by sweets, crisps and soft drinks, with Pampers nappies making it in for the first time.
The report looks at the value of sales of 6,500 branded products worth €4.9bn across 200 different product categories in supermarkets, convenience stores and garage forecourts.
Overall, confectionery is the biggest selling single category of branded grocery products ahead of milk and bread, with fizzy drinks coming in fourth place, biscuits in fifth and crisps in sixth.
Obesity expert Dr Donal O'Shea said the dominance of sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks on the list showed it was crucial for government to take action to tackle our over-consumption of these products.
"Industry cannot help itself in trying to sell us more of their products and the fact is our brains like these high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt products.
"You combine that instinct with the fact these foods are marketed at young people, and it's clear we have to take all possible measures to try to change behaviour," he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday responded to Dr O'Shea's criticism of Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan's refusal to ban vending machines in second-level schools.
At the opening of a new science building in Sligo IT, Mr Kenny said there were no vending machines in any primary schools.
"Drinks companies themselves have introduced a code of conduct which we expect to be honoured," he said, adding schools were not the only places where children access fizzy drinks.
"Parents and young persons need to know that a healthy diet is essential and consumption of a fizzy drink is not to be abused, not to be overdone."
The Irish Heart Foundation and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland are both calling for a tax on sugary soft drinks to tackle the obesity crisis, and Dr O'Shea said he would go further in advocating a tax on all "top-shelf" treat foods including sweets and sugary cereals.
The Checkout report shows that Cadbury's Dairy Milk and Tayto and Walkers crisps have all moved up the list of most popular buys this year.
Other big climbers include Wrigley's Extra chewing gum, Club soft drinks, Maltesers, HB Magnums and Kinder chocolate. The report does not include supermarket own-brand products or loose unpackaged goods such as fruit and vegetables.
Checkout editor Stephen Wynne Jones said that the top-selling 100 brands represented almost 50pc of all branded groceries purchased.