Food industry trust nine-year low | UK | News

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Trust in the food industry has fallen to a nine-year low as two thirds of consumers feel they are being “ripped off” by convenience store prices, according to a survey.

Which?’s monthly consumer insight tracker found that trust in the groceries industry dropped in May to the lowest it has been since November 2014, with a score of 36 – a fall of 32 points since the high of 68 in May 2020.

A separate survey by the consumer group found that 67% of UK adult believe supermarkets are ripping people off with their “convenience store” prices, which are often more expensive than the bigger retailers.

Three-quarters (75%) also said they find the price of convenience store foods too expensive compared with larger supermarkets and nearly half (45%) struggle to find affordable food in convenience stores.

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Half of those (51%) who rely on convenience stores at least once a week are struggling financially with the cost-of-living crisis compared with 35% of consumers overall, the poll found.

Some 57% agreed that having more budget ranges in stores would help.

Now the consumer watchdog is calling on supermarkets to improve the availability of essential budget items in their convenience stores to help consumers, especially those on a low income. At the moment, the watchdog claims that those who cannot get to a larger supermarket are being punished by having to pay more because the budget products are not available locally.

The Which? consumer insight tracker found 88% of consumers were worried about food prices – the highest level since the survey began in 2012.

Nearly six in 10 (57%) have bought cheaper items, 39 per cent have bought cheaper items on promotion and four in 10 (40%) have shopped around to find the best prices, the poll found.

One in 10 (11%) have skipped meals, 7% have prioritised meals for other family members and 4% have used a food bank.

An estimated 1.9 million households missed or defaulted on at least one mortgage, rent, loan, credit card or other bill in May, according to the tracker’s findings.

The 6.9% missed payment rate is in line with the level seen at the same time last year, but is still higher than in May 2021 (5.7%) and May 2020 (5.3%).

Renters remained much more likely than homeowners to have missed a payment in the last month, at 12.8% and 4.3% respectively.

More than half of households (55%) reported making at least one adjustment, such as cutting back on essentials, dipping into savings or selling possessions to cover essential spending such as utility bills, housing costs, groceries, school supplies and medicines in the last month.

However this is the lowest level seen since April 2022.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Trust in the groceries industry has fallen to a nine-year low, with many consumers telling us they feel ripped off by high convenience store prices.

“People should not have to pay over the odds for everyday essentials just because they struggle to get to a large supermarket.

“While the whole food supply chain affects prices, supermarkets have the power to do more to support people who are struggling, including ensuring everyone has easy access to basic, affordable budget ranges at a store near them, including smaller stores for consumers who rely on these.

“Supermarkets must also provide transparent pricing so people can easily work out which products offer the best value.”

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