Food Cost Concerns

December 7/Wireless News -- A recent HealthFocus International (HFI) study reveals that cutting costs has expanded into higher income groups -- namely, those with annual incomes upwards of $75,000.

According to the study, a significant source of cost cutting is happening at the grocery store, as nearly three quarters of shoppers indicate a higher level of concern about the cost of groceries, which has resulted in them buying less overall and cutting back on non-essential food and beverage items.

This study is a follow-up from the HFI report in April 2009 on "Grocery Buying in the Current Economy" and surveyed 1,000 primary grocery shoppers to explore how shoppers with income reduction (versus unemployment or loss of income) are dealing with recent change brought on from the economy. Reduction of income is affecting one out of three shoppers and is likely the key factor in bringing cost into play as a more permanent factor in determining behavior. These most recent findings reveal a significant shift in shopper actions and attitudes.

"The extended economic uncertainty has had a very profound and deepening impact on consumer attitudes and behavior," says Barbara Katz, president of HealthFocus International. "The resulting practice of shoppers using cost cutting strategies could have a lingering impact, irrespective of whether or not economic conditions improve."

Shopping Patterns Changing Among High Income Shoppers
Among individuals who earn more than $75,000, nearly three quarters of this group's food and beverage shopping patterns have been impacted to a significant degree. They are more aggressive than six months ago in their commitment to manage costs in the following categories:
- Almost half cut coupons more for grocery shopping, up from 15%
- Almost half spend less on entertainment, up 12%
- 40% buy private label or store brands more often

Cost Cutting Continues
While concern about the economy overall may have shifted down slightly from six months ago (80% vs. 90%), almost three quarters of shoppers have a higher level of concern about the cost of groceries.

From the December 21, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition