The findings come from a biannual ‘Food and You 2’ survey conducted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and suggest consumer concerns around cost-of-living and food insecurity.
A total of 6,770 adults from 4,727 households across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland were surveyed between 26 April and 24 July 2022.
The survey revealed most respondents had made changes to their eating habits in the last 12 months. The most common changes related to what and where respondents ate, reducing food costs and increased food management behaviours.
Changes included eating out less and consuming fewer takeaways; cooking and eating at home more; buying items on special offer more; and changing what and where they buy to cheaper alternatives. For the most part, respondents said they changed eating habits due to financial reasons (69%).
Overall, the top concern for people was revealed to be food prices (66%), followed by food waste (60%) and the amount of sugar in food (59%).
Food insecurity was also a major focus on the survey, which indicated that 20% of households across England, Wales and Northern Ireland now have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. “This is the highest reported level of food insecurity since tracking began in 2020,” noted the FSA.
Unsurprisingly, food security was associated with household income: respondents with a lower income were more likely to report being food insecure that those with a higher income.
The survey also assessed use of food banks and free school meals. Most respondents (95%) reported they had not used a food bank or other emergency food provider in the last year, 3% said they had.
Of respondents with children aged 7-15 years in their household, most (74%) said their children do not receive school meals. Approximately one in four (24%) said they do.