Grocery shoppers are buying less meat due to food inflation, Bord Bia finds

39% of Irish consumers say that bulk cooking and meal prepping have become more important in recent months



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17 January 2023

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Irish consumers are changing their shopping behaviours as a result of rising inflation, according to a survey conducted by Bord Bia. More than half (51%) of Irish consumers shop at multiple stores to get the best deal, and another 50% buy only the essentials.

Consumers are cutting back on foods that are single use or have less perceived versatility or shelf-life are being more challenged. Foods with shorter shelf life, such as pre-packaged bakery, or more expensive meat have witnessed the highest declines as consumers seek out foods that can offer them more than one dish or a single meal. While people are generally cutting back on meat because of inflation, this is especially true for proteins like lamb (32%) and seafood (33%). Chicken sales are up 15% as it is viewed as more affordable and flexible than other meats.

Indeed, 59% of Irish consumers are buying indulgent and speciality items less, and 55% are buying less treats for themselves and family.

Still, sales of fresh fruit and vegetables have continued to stay strong. Bord Bia found that 80% of Irish consumers are buying fresh fruit and vegetables the same or more as they did in 2021.

“Buying and shopping for ‘the essentials’ means different things depending what budgets allow for. For the less financially secure, this could mean few items in the basket,” said Grace Binchy, market insight specialist at Bord Bia. “They are ‘doing more with less’ and maximise what they can. For the more financially secure, this could mean the same number of items in the basket but looking for cheaper alternatives. They are exploring what cheaper options are available and what compromises they want to make.”

To many, convenience is not a premium worth paying any more as sales of ready meals are in decline. One third (32%) of Irish consumers are buying chilled ready meals less or much less.

Meanwhile cooking from scratch and dining at home is taking precedence overeating out or buying in. Price is a major factor here with 62% of people saying price is a key reason they are eating out less or indeed have stopped doing so in recent months. Likewise, takeaways have seen a significant fall off with almost 47% of people buying less takeaway in recent months.

In line with this, Bord Bia noted that 48% of people in Ireland are now cooking from scratch more, which is more than in any other markets surveyed. The study also identified the rise in interest in bulk cooking with 39% of Irish consumers saying that bulk cooking and meal prepping have become more important in recent months.

The survey of 10,000 people across Ireland, the UK, the US, Germany and France was conducted in October and November 2022 as consumers contended with the rising cost of living and food price inflation.

The study spilt consumers into segments according to their financial stability and outlook for the year ahead. Over 40% remain ‘Sensible Spenders’ (financially comfortable but cautious). One third (32%) were classified as ‘Just Surviving’ (financially insecure and uncertain about future). This figure stood at 13% in 2021. Another 12% were identified as ‘Carefree Consumers’; 7% ‘Savvy Shoppers’ and 8% ‘Easy Lifers’.

It found that almost half of those surveyed consider themselves ‘financially comfortable’, while 35% consider themselves ‘financially poor’.



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