Food prices are rising at their fastest rate in eight years and will increase further with the Ukrainian war hugely disrupting supplies of basic commodities. Overall, Britain is heading for the worst fall in living standards since the 1950s as 1.3 million people face ‘absolute poverty’.

Hubbub was curious to discover how the ‘year of the squeeze’ is changing our habits and the impact this will have on our sustainability campaigns. We surveyed 3,000 UK residents asking how increasing costs were changing their eating and shopping habits. Five clear themes emerged:

  1. People are changing where they shop - 1 in 7 have already changed the supermarket they usually shop at (a further 13% plan to) and 1 in 4 are already shopping around to get best prices for food across a range of shops. 

  2. People are changing how they shop - 1 in 6 are doing more “big shops” and the same number are buying groceries in store more, rather than online.  

  3. People are changing what they buy - 1 in 4 are choosing more own branded products,  18% are already buying more tinned/frozen foods so they last (with 16% plan to start).

  4. People are eating out less – over half (54%) said they’re already eating out less which is yet another blow to the hospitality industry.  

  5. People are wasting less - almost 1 in 4 have already started to reduce food waste in their household (24%) and 42% agree the rising cost of food is encouraging them to be more creative with using leftovers/making meals go further. 

Disturbingly the survey found 1 in 6 participants fear they will go hungry as a result of the rise in the cost of living and 1 in 4 parents fear their children will go hungry. Based on the insight from the polling Hubbub is seeking to respond in four ways:

1) The Launch of ‘Ways to Save’

Our new communications campaign Ways to Save aims to help everyone buy only what they need, eat what they buy and cook more affordably.  The campaign is built around five key tips:

  • Eat what you buy – plan your meals, batch cook and freeze your leftovers. 

  • Share or take home surplus food – visit one of the 280 community fridges across the country that share surplus food and keep an eye on the ever-growing network, as Co-op are helping the Community Fridge Network to expand to 500. Or try out a food sharing app like Olio and Too Good To Go. 

  • Swap meat for cheaper alternatives like lentils or beans – it’s better on your pocket and on the planet. 

  • Order smart if you’re treating yourself to a takeaway – opt for the right portion and learn how to safely reheat leftovers.  Check out top tips from our recent campaign with Just Eat here.

  • Cook smart – save money, time and emissions by cooking more efficiently e.g. put lids on pans, use the microwave over the oven where possible and boil only the water you need.  

For more information on #WaysToSave on food, visit the campaign page below.


2) Greater investment in community campaigns to cut food waste

There has been a sharp increase in the number of visitors to the growing number of Community Fridges across the UK. Last year the network of 250 fridges redistributed an estimated 3,100 tonnes of food that might otherwise have gone to waste, and many of these have recently seen a sharp increase in the number of visitors facing financial hardship. You can read the full impact report for the Network here. 

Helen Innes who supports eight community fridges across Milton Keynes said:

“We’re signposting more people every day to other services such as food banks, top-up shops and community larders in Milton Keynes. People that would usually top up using community fridges at the end of the month are now coming more frequently. Everyone is feeling the squeeze”. 

Hubbub is also increasing our work directly with companies and local authorities, creating bespoke campaigns that can help residents make food go further.

3) Promoting healthier, cheaper and more sustainable diets

Working in partnership with Marks and Spencer our ‘Sparking Change’ campaign has been helping customers explore how more diverse diets can save money, boost health and be more sustainable. The initial participants reported that 90% were eating less meat, 75% were eating more food in season, 90% were wasting less food, 73% were cooking more from scratch and 70% felt healthier and those who saved money saved on average £22 per week. Check out the full impact report for this campaign here. 

Marks and Spencer has used the campaign results to expand Sparking Change to their wider customer base and Hubbub will be sharing insight from this with other retailers.

4) Boosting cooking skills and confidence

Research by Hubbub has revealed that a lack of cooking skills and confidence can lead to increased food waste and a lack of experimentation with different diets. To address this, we have previously invested in Community Kitchens providing a space and expertise freely available to the local community. In the year ahead, we are seeking to build on this approach by supporting more community food hubs across the UK.

The cost-of-living squeeze is changing the way people eat and shop and is clearly increasing pressures on household budgets. Hubbub’s food campaigns are evolving to recognise this new reality, helping households get the most value from the food they buy.

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