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Report: effect of recession on household food purchases

A study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies at the University of Manchester has looked at the effect of the recession on households’ food purchasing patterns.

Data on food purchases were recorded in over 3,000 households over 2006-9. The study finds that while the number of calories consumed fell slightly, people switched their purchases away from nutrient dense and towards energy dense (ie. sugary and fatty) foods.

Key points as follows:

  • Households experienced a decline in income and a contemporaneous large increase in the price of food and changes in relative food prices
  • There was a substantial decline in the amount of food purchased – this was higher for social class DE households and less for AB
  • Households compensated by purchasing cheaper more calorie dense foods - AB households did this more than DE
  • Nutrition improved in some dimensions -lower salt, higher fibre, reduction in “bads” from decline in quantity
  • Nutrition declined in other dimensions -Households shifted towards higher fat and higher sugar foods

There is a PDF of the research findings here, and Food Manufacture reports on the research here. But I can’t find a full report of the research – if anyone else finds it, please can they send it through or post as a comment on this entry?


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