The affordability of diets modelled on the current (less healthy) diet compared to a healthy diet based on Dietary Guidelines was calculated for population groups in New Zealand. Diets using common foods were developed for a household of four for the total population, Māori and Pacific groups. Māori and Pacific nutrition expert panels ensured the diets were appropriate. Each current (less healthy) diet was based on eating patterns identified from national nutrition surveys. Food prices were collected from retail outlets. Only the current diets contained alcohol, takeaways and discretionary foods. The modelled healthy diet was cheaper than the current diet for the total population (3.5% difference) and Pacific households (4.5% difference) and similar in cost for Māori households (0.57% difference). When the diets were equivalent in energy, the healthy diet was more expensive than the current diet for all population groups (by 8.5% to 15.6%). For households on the minimum wage, the diets required 27% to 34% of household income, and if receiving income support, required 41⁻52% of household income. Expert panels were invaluable in guiding the process for specific populations. Both the modelled healthy and current diets are unaffordable for some households as a considerable portion of income was required to purchase either diet. Policies are required to improve food security by lowering the cost of healthy food or improving household income.
Keywords: INFORMAS; Māori diets; Pacific diets; diet prices; food affordability; food security.