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    Most people change eating habits as food insecurity hits record level: FSA survey

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    Most people surveyed had made changes to their eating habits in the last year, with financial reasons being the biggest driver, a new survey has shown.

    The latest wave of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Food and You 2 survey, conducted between April and July 2022 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, reveals that the most common changes people have made to their eating habits include eating out less and eating fewer takeaways; cooking and eating at home more; buying items on special offer more; and changing what and where they buy to cheaper alternatives.

    The survey indicates that one in five (20%) of households across the three nations are now food insecure, having limited or uncertain access to adequate food. This is the highest reported level of food insecurity since tracking began in 2020, the FSA added.

    The research also reveals that food prices are the top concern for people (66%), with food waste (60%) and the amount of sugar in food (59%) also featuring in the top three prompted concerns.

    “Food and You 2 provides FSA and the rest of government with robust data on what people think and do when it comes to food. We are seeing high levels of concern about food prices, as well as people making changes to their eating habits for financial reasons,” Emily Miles, chief executive at the FSA, said.

    Key findings  

    Food-related behaviours and eating habits 

    • 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
    • The main causes of reported changes in eating habits were financial reasons (69%), health reasons (47%), and because of COVID-19 and lockdown (41%)

     Concerns about food   

    • 80% of respondents had no concerns about the food they eat, with 20% of respondents reporting they had a concern
    • When prompted, the most common concerns related to food prices (66%), food waste (60%), and the amount of sugar in food (59%)

    Food security   

    • Across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 80% of respondents were classified as food secure (67% high, 13% marginal) and 20% of respondents were classified as food insecure (10% low, 10% very low)
    • 80% of respondents in England reported high or marginal food security, with 78% in Northern Ireland, and 74% in Wales. Low or very low food security was reported by 20% of respondents in England, 22% in Northern Ireland, and 26% in Wales

    Food shopping and labelling

    • 83% of respondents reported that they bought food from a supermarket or mini supermarket about once a week or more often
    • 51% of respondents reported that they bought food from independent shops (greengrocers, butchers, bakers, fishmongers) and 44% bought food from a local/corner shop or newsagents 2-3 times a month or less often
    • 83% of respondents who go food shopping and take into consideration a person who has a food allergy or intolerance were confident that the information provided on food labelling allows them to identify foods that will cause a bad or unpleasant physical reaction

    Online platforms

    • 60% of respondents reported that they had ordered food or drink from the websites of a restaurant, takeaway or café, while 55% of respondents had ordered from an online ordering and delivery company (for example, Just Eat, Deliveroo, Uber Eats)
    • 27% of respondents had ordered via an online marketplace (for example Amazon, Gumtree, Etsy), 10% had ordered food or drink through a food sharing app (for example Olio, Too Good To Go), and 8% had ordered via social media platforms (for example, Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor)

    Confidence in food safety, authenticity and the food supply chain  

    • Around three quarters of respondents (74%) reported that they had confidence in the food supply chain
    • 86% of respondents were confident that the information on food labels is accurate

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