The latest report by safefood on the cost of a minimum acceptable healthy food basket has revealed families on a tight budget continue to struggle to buy healthy food, with some households spending up to one third (32%) of their take home income each week on food.
The research, which is conducted every two years, also found that food costs for families with teenage children was more than double that for households with younger children.
Introducing the research, Dr Aileen McGloin, Director of Nutrition with safefood said: “We’ve been conducting this research since 2014 and we’ve seen for the first time that average food prices are higher than they were in 2014. We’re also seeing a consistent pattern of households trying to balance buying an affordable food basket with other rising household expenses. For a two-parent household who rely on state benefits with two children, one in primary and one in secondary school, their weekly food shop is €150 or 32% of their income. If this same household is in a rural area, the cost increases to €162 every week.”
“For all families with children, food is the largest household cost, and this has only been exacerbated by the rises we’ve seen in inflation in the past 12 months”, continued Dr McGloin. “Food staples² like milk, butter and eggs have increased in price by 24%, 18.9% and 18.3% respectively compared with April 2022. We know from the research that food is often the flexible part of the household budget and gets sacrificed when other bills need to be met.”
“Our research is based on the food needs of families and takes into account the social and cultural aspects of the food we buy. This ensures we reflect how Irish families live their lives and how their weekly food shop allows them take part in activities considered a normal part of everyday life. For example, buying a birthday cake for a child’s birthday or biscuits to offer with tea to a visitor”. Recent figures³from Kantar show that grocery price inflation slowed slightly in April and stands at 16.8%. This could lead to an annual grocery bill rising by more than €1,200.
The contents of the food baskets in the safefood survey were based on menus put together by the households themselves. People selected an acceptable food basket in terms of taste and menu choices, while also meeting the social needs of a household, for example hosting visitors or special occasions like birthdays. The food baskets were reviewed by nutritionists to ensure they met the nutritional guidelines of the Food Pyramid and then price-checked accordingly.
A summary of the report “What is the cost of a healthy food basket in Ireland?” is available to download from www.safefood.net/news