A study by MySuperMarket has revealed the shocking gaps that have emerged in families’ food budgets and demonstrated that more and more households are taking advantage of deals, discounts and vouchers than before, altering their buying habits from week to week in order to put food on the table.
This all stems from food prices rapidly outpacing wage rises, with the Office of National Statistics putting annual food price increases at 4.6%, whilst wages have risen by only 1.8% over the same period. It’s the same reason that many families have been driven to taking out payday loans in order to get by.
The Institute of Grocery Distribution has been looking into the buying habits of shoppers and how they have changed over the course of the financial crisis. The group’s chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch, says that it’s not something that’s just affecting one group of shoppers but can be seen across the whole spectrum:
“We have become a nation of savvy shoppers as austerity has become the ‘norm’. Before the credit crunch most of us would tend to do our food and grocery shopping at the same store and buy pretty much the same products week-in, week-out. But now, we are shopping around more and also making the most of the different offers available to us […] even better-off families are adjusting their shopping habits as they adjust to the squeeze on incomes.”
It not just buying habits either, with shoppers ensuring they are treating food differently once it’s home to save money. Denney-Finch explains the measures many families are taking: “Over four in ten shoppers say they are freezing more of the fresh items they buy on multi-buy in order to increase their shelf-life and reduce waste. While 35 per cent of shoppers told us they are planning more meals according to the dates on multi-buy fresh food, over the last six months.”
Whilst it’s worrying news that so many are having to make such drastic changes as the economy changes, it’s great news for campaigners trying to reduce the amount of food we waste and change the eating habits of the nation. The recession may have done more for this than any amount of actual campaigning.