Survey: Inflation’s Impact on Grocery Shopping

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Increasingly, U.S. consumers are cutting back on their grocery shopping as a result of inflation. That’s the finding of a survey commissioned by specialist PR consultancy Ingredient Communications. SurveyGoo polled 500 U.S. consumers during the first week of October 2022. A previous survey was conducted in December 2021 when inflation was already on the rise.

Among the inflation survey findings:

  • 50.2% of respondents said they had bought a food or beverage product less often in the previous three months due an increase in price. Ten months earlier (in late 2021) 37.7% had purchased a product less frequently for this reason.
  • 62.4% of respondents said they had switched to a less expensive brand, compared with 57.7% before.
  • 35.6% of respondents said they had switched to private label/own label versions of a product, versus 27.9% last year.
  • 20.9% of respondents said they had stopped buying a food or beverage product altogether in the previous three months because of cost. This is up 19.1% of shoppers who said they had traded out of a product due to cost concerns in the 2021 survey.
  • 97.2% of respondents in the 2022 survey said they had noticed food and beverage prices rising in the previous three months, compared with 94.9% in the 2021 survey.

“Since we conducted our first price sensitivity survey, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated an already volatile situation,” said Richard Clarke, Managing Director of Ingredient Communications, in a press release. “As well as difficulties sourcing certain raw materials, fuel costs have gone through the roof. With winter on the way in the western hemisphere, and no sign of Russia backing down, demand for energy will spike and it’s hard to see any short-term easing of the inflationary pressures that food companies and consumers are facing.

“In manufacturing, it’s tempting to look for quick fixes to cut costs but in the food industry there are always risks to this. Consumers are very attuned to recipe changes and pack size reductions and social media means news of these can spread fast. At Ingredient Communications, we’ve always advocated using high quality ingredients that differentiate a product. But in these challenging times, it’s also worth talking to your ingredients suppliers to see how they can help. Many have extensive formulation expertise and might be able to advise on how to reduce input costs without compromising on quality or losing brand equity and consumer trust.”