Low income households in Northern Ireland need to spend at least one third (1/3) of their take home income in order to purchase a basket of healthy food, a new study has found. The cost of a healthy food basket for a pensioner living on their own is £59 per week, while for a family of four – two adults and two children - is £119 per week.
Philippa McKeown-Brown, Head of Consumer Skills at the Consumer Council said: “This groundbreaking research launched today establishes the true cost of a basic but healthy food basket and will inform the debate and actions needed to tackle food poverty. Our latest research, due to be released next month, shows a significant proportion of Northern Ireland consumers (43 per cent) say their financial situation has worsened over the last two years due to higher food costs. Food prices have actually fluctuated during this period but in our direct engagement with consumers we have heard repeatedly how people are struggling to achieve a healthy, balanced diet”.
Sharon Gilmore, Head of Standards and Dietary Health at the Food Standards Agency in NI said "For the first time, we have sound evidence on the real cost of an essential food basket and how food issues relate to poverty and economic hardship.
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, explained “The effects of compromising on food spending can impact on people’s lives in a number of ways, from difficulties in concentration and poor energy levels in children, to wellbeing issues in everyday life for adults. On a longer-term basis, the health consequences for those households living in food poverty are higher rates of diet-related chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. In trying to make a limited household budget go further by compromising on healthy foods, some households are ending up nutritionally poor.”