Millions of British households are being forced to skip meals or buy cheaper food due to the rising cost of basic products, a consumer watchdog group has said, citing a new poll.
More than eight in 10 people in the UK (85%) are changing their eating habits in response to the rising cost of living, consumer champion Which? said on Thursday.
The most popular way of coping with inflation is to seek promotional offers, which is what more than half (55%) of the respondents reported doing.
A total of 50% said they were switching to cheaper products that they didn’t buy previously. Around one in five said they had started buying more frozen (18%) and microwave-ready (5%) foods to reduce their grocery bills, they explained.
Of those who said they were in a very difficult financial position, almost all (99%) said they were saving money on food in some way, while half (50%) reported skipping some meals altogether.
The same was true for over a quarter (26%) of those who described their financial situation as “quite difficult,” and for 12% of all people surveyed.
Almost half (47%) of those who reported living comfortably said they were also trying to save some money on food.
The shift in behavior comes with potential ramifications for people’s wellbeing, Which? said, with almost half (46%) of consumers saying they found it hard to eat healthily, compared to the time before the crisis. The share rises to 78% among those struggling financially.
“The devastating impact of the cost of living crisis is, worryingly, leading to millions of people skipping meals or struggling to put healthy meals on the table,” said Sue Davies, the group’s head of consumer rights and food policy.
She urged supermarkets to sell more products in the budget ranges that are also healthy to help those in a tough spot.
The report was based on an online survey conducted by Yonder involving 2,791 UK adults, the results of which were weighted to be nationally representative.
The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in the UK rose by 10.1% in the 12 months to September, according to the Office of National Statistics. Rising food prices made the largest upward contribution to the change since the previous month, it said.