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Millions skipping meals in 'food affordability crisis'

Millions skipping meals in 'food affordability crisis'
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

One in eight UK households have skipped a meal amid a 'food affordability crisis' , a consumer champion reveals.

A further 8% of households prioritised meals for other family members and around one in 30 have used a food bank, according to Which?’s consumer insight tracker.

The groups most likely to skip a meal were renters and people out of work, with one in five and a quarter respectively missing a meal due to affordability issues.

But it is not just those groups of people feeling the full force of increasing food prices. Over half (53%) of the 2,000 respondents surveyed said they were buying cheaper products, while a further 46% said they decided to buy more own-brand supermarket products to knock down their grocery bill.

The areas hardest hit by the food affordability crisis in England were in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands, Which?’s Priority Places for Food Index finds.

West Midlands, North East, and Yorkshire hardest hit

The reasons for families needing extra help are attributed to accessibility issues as well as the need for financial help with food. In those areas, there is a lack of supermarkets around poor access to online deliveries.

In Wales, the most likely area to have people struggling to afford their groceries was in the Valleys, while the Central Belt and Dundee in Scotland are the places with the most struggle. These areas are prime for fuel poverty, and there are many workers on low income too.

South Belfast in Northern Ireland represented the area where families need the most help with their food bills.

One factor that signifies the nationwide problem with paying for food during the cost-of-living crisis is the number of missed bill payments from families. Around two million homes missed or defaulted on a housing, credit, or loan bill in the month leading up to 7 February, the consumer champion’s data find.

Missed bills and rising credit debt signify the UK’s financial struggle

Meanwhile, those carrying debt are on the rise too, as the amount of money owed on credit cards in the UK rose by 12.5% in a year.

Further, eight in ten UK parliamentary constituencies contain one local town or village most likely to need help to purchase affordable food. There are also eight constituencies across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland that have three-quarters of their populations at risk of struggling to pay for food.

There is hope that the worst of the food pricing issue is behind everyone, with food price inflation falling to its lowest level in two years.

But millions are still struggling to cope with two years of surges in the amount it costs for a weekly shop in the supermarket.

It is those retailers that ought to up their efforts to support people in need, says Sue Davies, the head of food policy at Which?

Supermarkets called on to improve easy access to budget food options

Davies said: “Supermarkets have the ability to make a real difference in the communities that need it most.

“That’s why we’re calling on them to ensure everyone has easy access to budget food ranges that enable healthy choices, can easily compare the price of products to get the best value, and that promotions are targeted at supporting people most in need.”

For the cheapest deals and loyalty reward offers, take a glance at YourMoney.com’s latest supermarket price guide.