Food price rises The rising cost of food
Are you finding rising food costs a struggle? Food price hikes are hitting consumers hard, with many changing their shopping and cooking habits to try and save money.
Which? surveyed 1,009 members of the public in June 2011 to find out just what the affect food price rises were having on consumers ,and it appears the rising cost of food hasn't gone unnoticed.
84% of people say that they are worried about food prices increasing. Although people say they have noticed prices increasing in general, there are some which are noticed more than others – bread, meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. What are you having to cut down on to fund your food bills?
Each time we go shopping it seems to be more expensive.
Cheaper food choices
As a response to the rising food prices, many consumers are changing their shopping habits to find a better deal. 40% of the shoppers we surveyed said that they bought more of their groceries from a cheaper supermarket than they had done a year ago.
Roughly the same percentage (41%) said that they are buying more supermarket own-brands.
We also asked about the types of foods that people were more likely to buy, which proved to be tinned and frozen food.
We're buying more supermarket brands and fewer branded goods; more shopping at Aldi, markets and farm shops.
Prices and discounts
More than half of the people we surveyed said they are using special offers more often. Most people like special offers, but they prefer straightforward discounts as opposed to multibuy offers such as 'buy one get one free.'
Unit costs also proved a problem for some. The 'unit cost' relates to the price given for a standard amount, e.g. 100g as well as the cost per item. Seventy-two per cent of consumers told us that it was annoying when products weren't priced per unit and less than half (46%) think that the unit price information is large enough to read easily.
We are eating less of the better quality food as we just can't afford the better food, which is worrying.
Ethical and healthy choices
Not everyone can afford premium products, and the rising food prices have had an impact on whether consumers are likely to take ethical or health issues into account when shopping.
Three in 10 consumers are buying less organic produce and around a fifth are buying less fair-trade food.
Healthy eating could also be suffering, as more than half of consumers (55%) think high prices make it harder to eat healthily. This is particularly clear when looking at supermarket special offers – only 29% of people think it is easy to eat healthily using the special offers.
If you'd like more results from our food prices survey, or Which? policy on food affordability, download our full food prices report.
Taking action on food prices
One of the problems for consumers is that it isn't always clear why the price is rising and what role factors, such as rising commodity prices, play compared to other issues, such as fuel price increases.
We'd like to see more open debate and greater scrutiny of the reasons why we are seeing food prices constantly rising. We also want to see more responsible promotions on food and more transparent pricing so it's easier to compare prices.