Consumers robbed of knowledge are struggling with rising food costs

Green MLA Steven Agnew has expressed concern over the number of households in Northern Ireland struggling to meet basic food bills.

Responding to a study by the Consumer Council, the Green Party Leader said: “This study has a highlighted the serious concerns that one in six households have about meeting basic requirements such as being able to afford food.
“Among the findings of the Consumer Council’s study was that almost nine in 10 people said they worried about the cost of food — irrespective of age, income or demographics.
“There has been a serious disconnect between people and what they eat.
“Due to a reduction in knowledge of how to buy and cook food, busier lifestyles and the closure of many local food shops on our high streets, our food economy has been almost completely surrendered to multi-national supermarket chains.
“We now find ourselves at the mercy of the global food economy where spiraling prices on the wholesale market caused by poor yields from climate effected crops is hitting our wallets hard.
“There is an over-reliance on processed and fast food and this is actually the most expensive and yet most unhealthy way to eat.
“Many people are also left in a state of confusion by the mixed messages regarding diet and health.
“We are encourage to eat healthily and include more fruit and veg in our diet, yet they are often the most expensive items in supermarkets as they are mostly important from overseas markets.
“Food prices have risen 32% since 2007, and that has meant the average wage growth of low income households has been outstripped by price increases in food.
“This problem is only going to increase as the true scale of welfare cuts and wage freezes really start to hit.
“Inevitably, families will seek cheaper alternatives and this will lead to the consumption of low-quality food which is detrimental to long-term health and wellbeing.
“As a society, we will all be picking up the costs in the future as the consequences of poor health will have to be tackled through the health service.
“We need to address this issue as a matter of urgency because a good diet forms the bedrock of health and life expectancy.
“Consumers need to be given the knowledge and incentives to ensure they eat healthily within their budgets.
“We can support our economy and save money by sourcing food from local retailers, eating seasonally and wasting less.”

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