Customers Cut Corners Amid High Food and Fuel Costs

Clipping coupons and shopping at discount stores are two ways consumers are trying to save money.

A new poll released by the Center for Food Integrity shows consumers are coping with the rising cost of food by changing their shopping behaviors.

The poll, posted on the Center for Food Integrity’s Best Food Facts Website (www.bestfoodfacts.org) shows that 37% of the respondents are clipping coupons, 32% are buying fewer name brand items, and 17% are shopping at discount/warehouse stores.

Best Food Facts interviewed Dr. Helen Jensen, an economics professor at Iowa State University, about the survey results. In addition to the options listed in the survey, Jensen noted people are likely cutting back on food eaten or prepared away from home. She also believes that when budget-minded consumers do choose to eat out, they are opting for lower priced restaurants or buying takeout meals from grocery stores.

“Clearly, rising food prices are increasing their share of budget spent on food,” Jensen said, citing statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor. “The share of income has increased from 11% or 12% to almost 13%… a very clear indication that people are spending more on food.”

Jensen noted that though this increased share of income spent on food is still relatively low compared to other developed countries, it is eating away at the household budgets of many Americans. Coupled with rising fuel prices and health care costs, many are now forced to choose less expensive foods.

What Customers are Saying
In addition to answering to the poll question, respondents were asked to leave comments about the topic. A sample of their comments include:

—“I still go to the same stores, but I definitely buy more store brands. A person has only so much money to work with, and you gotta eat!”

—”I’ve always clipped coupons and bought generic brands. I also grow veggies in pots or in the garden.”

—“If a product does not say ‘Made in the USA’ we do not purchase. We use coupons and mostly shop at warehouse stores. We eat fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the USA.”

—“We are older and try to eat as healthy as we can but it is hard to pay the high cost of fresh fruit and vegetables. We try to use coupons or buy generic brands.”

—“I grow my own vegetables and can them. I will soon look into buying from local ranchers as well.”

“People are spending more on everything; the net effect is that their incomes are lower, food prices are higher, and people will look to substitute less expensive food as a way of saving money,” Jensen said. “It’s a challenge to eat a healthy diet and do it economically … Relative to the dietary guidelines, it becomes harder and harder to meet those recommendations.”

Source: The Center for Food Integrity.

 

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