Poorest hit by high food prices

trolley groceriesDPA DEUTSCHE PRESS-AGENTUR/DPA/Press Association Images

A report out today reveals that the cost of food is crippling the poorest households in the UK. Research from supermarket chain Morrisons, found that 5.2 million households spend 15.5 % or more of their total weekly outgoings on food and non alcoholic drinks alone. This leaves them struggling to heat their home, clothe their families or meet their other regular outgoings.

And it is set to get even worse.

Huge percentage of income

The average household in the UK spends 11% of its weekly expenditure on food. However, 20% of households are forced to spend at least 30% more on their current weekly food bill than the national average.

John Glen, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Cranfield School of Management, highlights that a one-parent family with a family income of less than £237 per week spends 15.6% of their total expenditure on food per week. Life for a single pensioner on a state pension, meanwhile, is even harder: they spend 18% of their income on food.

He says: "These findings make for worrying reading. In today's stretched financial society, the disproportionate food spend in low income households means that there is simply less money left in the pot for all the other things families need to pay for such as bills, clothing and fuel."

One major concern is that the cost of food is continuing to mushroom far faster than incomes, which means the situation is going to get increasingly difficult for many thousands of people.

Solutions

There are some solutions, though. Laura Cole, a 38 year old single mother from the south east lives on £13,000 a year, and found her grocery bill was reaching £80-£90 a week, once she had factored in a fussy toddler and nappies. However, she says: "It's a challenge, but if you embrace it and take control, you can cut your costs and maintain your standards at the same time."

Laura now cooks her dishes from scratch and buys from supermarket value ranges in order to keep her grocery costs down. She says: "When I was working full time I thought nothing of buying ready meals from M&S. Now I buy value ranges from budget supermarkets and cook for myself, and the food is every bit as good and at a fraction of the cost."

"I have also started home baking gifts for friends, which is much more appreciated than an expensive bottle of wine or chocolates, and far cheaper."

Sarah Willingham, money saving expert, commented: "Whilst the average household spend of 11% of outgoings a week on food may not be totally achievable for everyone, being aware of it, at least as a key figure in your expenditure, can help in planning and budgeting."

Sarah's Supermarket Saving Tips

  • Make sure you always go armed with a shopping list. Don't be tempted to buy things 'on offer' that you simply won't use or don't need.
  • Don't forget to look up and down when browsing the aisles so you can get a clear picture of all product options – don't just go for the nearest product at eye level.
  • Never go shopping on an empty stomach! Sounds obvious but many of us do and you end up buying more, or purchasing things that you don't need.
  • e aware of the supermarket layout: offers are often to be had at the end of the aisles, but sometimes you can seek out bargains elsewhere. And don't be tempted by impulse buys at the checkout!

Richard Hodgson, Morrisons Group Commercial Director, added: "This research was invaluable to us when developing our new M Savers range of everyday grocery essentials such as apples, baked beans and washing up liquid."
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