Quarter of Britons forced to cut back on meat in the past year - and a fifth cut back on fruit & veg
October 18th, 2022, Christien Pheby

Quarter of Britons forced to cut back on meat in the past year - and a fifth cut back on fruit & veg

The cost of living crisis has seen some Britons cutting back on essential and non-essential food items alike. New research from YouGov Survey Direct allows us to dig a little deeper into where specifically consumers have been tightening their belts with their grocery shopping over the past year.

Our data shows that a quarter of consumers have been cutting back on meat and fish (27%), sweet treats (26%), and savoury snack foods (25%).

But people aren’t just cutting back on protein, pastries and peanuts: due to increasing financial strain, a fifth are also cutting back on fruit (22%), vegetables (20%), and dairy products (20%). A smaller proportion are also limiting their expenditure on condiments (16%) and seasonings (14%). So for a subsection of the population, they won’t just be cutting back on certain foods; the food they do eat may be rather less flavourful.

Nearly half of lowest-earning households forced to slash their spending on meat

Looking at household incomes shows that, across the board, lower-earning households are more likely to limit their spending on a range of grocery products. Approaching half of Britons earning under £20,000 a year are buying less meat compared to last year (46%); a full nineteen percentage points more than the general public (27%).

This group are also more likely to have been forced to spend less on fruits (34% vs. 22% of the public) and vegetables (31% vs. 20%). And while lower-income consumers are eating fewer of these healthy foods, they’re also less likely to indulge in sweet treats (41%). This is true to some extent or another across every category of grocery item we polled. If, for example, 16% of the general public are spending less on condiments, this jumps to 26% for those on under £20k.

Given the gulf in resources, it’s not altogether surprising that a much lower proportion of Britons earning £60,000 a year or more have been compelled to trim their grocery spending – although a proportion still are. But looking at the data shows that Britons in the lowest income bracket are 31 percentage points more likely to have cut back on meat over the past year than those in the higher-income group (46% vs. 15%). Even when it comes to items such as ready meals, Briton whose annual take-home is under £20k are more likely to be leaving them in the freezer aisle (36% vs. 10%).


YouGov polled 2,000 British adults online on 12 October 2022 between 3:30 and 4:34 GMT. The survey was carried out through YouGov Survey Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, region, and social grade. The margin of error is 2% for the overall sample. Learn more about YouGov Survey Direct.

This data previously appeared in The Sunday Times.

See the full results here

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