Irish consumers have shown strong support for local produce, with 70% deeming buying Irish made / produced food as either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ important. Similarly, 61% consider the provenance of the food product to be an important factor when shopping. This is according to new Red C research, commissioned by KPMG, into Irish consumers food shopping and eating habits.
Sustainability and Reducing Meat and Dairy
62% of respondents rate the sustainability credentials of the producer/manufacturer as a primary consideration when choosing food items. However, just over one-third (37%) stated they would be willing to pay slightly more for food products with more sustainable packaging. Younger consumers are making more of an effort towards sustainable food practices and are willing to pay more.
Meanwhile, almost one-third (32%) are making a conscious effort to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy products, either for environmental, ethical or health reasons.
Consumers are Increasingly Health Conscious, But Price is Deciding Factor
Over one-third (38%) stated that they always read the food label and nutritional content before purchase, further pointing to the increased importance of healthy living amongst the Irish public.
However, the price of an item is by far the most important factor when shopping for food or groceries, with almost half (49%)ranking price as the 1st consideration in purchasing decisions.
The research showed that price is more of an important factor for younger consumers, while the over 55’s are more driven by health and nutritional credentials than other age groups.
Online Grocery Shopping Not Taking Off Just Yet
While online shopping continues to increase, partly accelerated by the pandemic, most still prefer to purchase their food from physical supermarkets. Just over 1 in 10 (12%) regularly do their grocery shopping online, with 18% stating they buy groceries online ‘sometimes’.
Overall, 44% of survey respondents stated that they don’t do any food or grocery shopping online and don’t intend to do so in the near future. This increases to 59% for the over 55 cohort surveyed, and decreases to 28% for those aged between 18 – 34.
Pointing to the potential reasons for this, the survey found that 77% prefer to buy fresh fruit or meat in store so they can examine the quality themselves and 44% don’t believe the shelf-life of food products purchased online is as good as those they buy in-store themselves.
Consumers Opt for Takeaway Over Dining Uut
More than a third (34%) of people in Ireland order takeaway food regularly, with 28% stating they order once a week and 6% stating a few times a week.
This compares starkly to how frequently those surveyed are eating out in restaurants or cafés, with just 1 in 10 (10%) dining in a restaurant or café once a week, 16% eating out a few times a month, and 23% once a month, despite the lifting of restrictions in the hospitality sector.
Unsurprisingly younger consumers are more likely to both order takeaways and eat out frequently.
Supermarket’s Own-Brand Products Popular Among Consumers
Tom McEvoy, Partner and Head of Food & Agri at KPMG said, “with the potential for global events to have a significant adverse effect on the Irish food and agriculture sector, we’re seeing a shift in the national conversation. Six months ago the main discussion was how Irish agriculture can adapt to a more sustainable environment. Now there is a wider conversation around how it can sustainably adapt amidst growing uncertainty, while also ensuring food security and minimising negative impacts to the environment”.
“There is clearly a strong appetite for sustainable homegrown Irish produce among the public, which is a great opportunity for farmers, processors, and retailers alike to take advantage of. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be remaining competitive on price, or convincing the public that it’s worth paying a premium on local and more sustainable products”.
“Despite COVID shifting consumers online in other sectors, it’s interesting to see that many are still hesitant about online grocery shopping, due to perceptions around the freshness of food, which will be another challenge. It’s also noteworthy that takeaway food remains the preferred choice over dining out, despite restrictions lifting. It will be interesting to see how this trend develops over time.”
Source: KPMG Ireland