Squeeze on finances resulting in changes to meat and poultry spending, YouGov finds

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A recent YouGov reports suggests pressure on household finances means many families are spending less on meat and poultry than they did a year ago, and they are also attempting to become more versatile in order to make what they buy stretch further.

Almost a fifth (17%) say they eat less red meat compared to a year ago. Just over one in 10 (11%) say they have less poultry. Of those who are eating less or attempting to cut back, 46% say this is because meat and poultry are now more expensive. A third (33%) say they cannot afford to buy as much meat and poultry as they did a year ago.

Buying and cooking habits have also changed for many. Just less than one in five (19%) say they now buy more meat and poultry so then can cook from scratch. 17% say they buy cheaper or value cuts and a tenth (10%) say they buy cheaper brands. However, only 4% say they buy more ready-to-cook products and ready meals.

Compared to a year ago, 16% of meat eaters say they have become more experimental with cooking as they look to encompass different cuts and types of meat and poultry, while 13% of adults say they use a wider range of cuts than they used to. The same amount say they try to use recipes which require less meat and poultry or substitute in more vegetables or other ingredients.

Value for money is crucial for those buying meat and poultry, 72% of meat eaters say this is an important consideration. That the food ‘looks good’ is a factor for over almost a third (65%), as was ‘high quality’ (64%) and ‘tastes good’ (59%), highlighting that although many families are cutting back when shopping, they still want to buy a quality product.

The report also assessed the impact of last year’s horse meat scandal. Just below half say it has had no effect on what they eat. 13% say they stopped eating affected food only for the period of the scare, while 8% say they have not eaten the affected food since the news emerged. The implication is that the risk was not was regarded as enough to motivate change for the majority.

YouGov UK research manager, Tom Rees, said: “Pressure on household food budgets has encouraged many to trade down in terms of price points or cuts in order to stretch household spending further. At the same time there has been a rise in the proportion of consumers choosing to cook from scratch rather than buy meals outside the home or to choose more prepared foods such as ready meals.

“With the ongoing squeeze in household food spending it seems likely that the focus for meat and poultry buyers will continue to be on perceived value for money.”