Bord Bia survey highlights Irish eating habits

Irish consumers are price conscious and value healthy, local produce, according to a new major new Bord Bia survey.

 The new research highlights Irish consumers’ changing behaviours and attitudes towards food shopping and meal preparation.

Since 2001, Bord Bia’s biennial PERIscope study has been exploring consumer attitudes towards topics such as eating at home, cooking, local food, the environment, and health and wellbeing, in ten markets – Ireland and Great Britain, six Continental European markets, along with the US and New Zealand – encompassing 10,000 respondents.

According to PERIscope 2013, 81% of consumers now look for the best value for money. This is up from 71% in 2005. Shoppers are also health conscious, with three-quarters of us ensuring we consume at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. There is an emergence away from focusing on convenience towards family and food experiences where home cooking is seen a catalyst that brings people together. While consumers are looking for solutions to help make cooking easier, the use of convenience foods as a whole has declined from 62% to 48% since 2005.

Five key themes have emerged from the study…

There is growing interest in where the food we consume comes from, country of origin labelling and eating with family at mealtimes

  • 77% of us check products for a Country of Origin label before we purchase compared to just 58% in Great Britain, which is the least likely of all countries to check for such labels
  • Three quarters of Irish consumers check for quality symbols in Ireland such as Bord Bia’s Quality Mark. In relation to meat specifically, considerably more Irish consumers claim to only buy meat that is fully traceable and to always check the label for the farm name.
  • Most Irish people (85%) believe it’s important to spend time over dinner as a family

Consumers are increasingly interested in cooking and find greater enjoyment in preparing meals. More meals are being made from scratch.

  • 70% of Irish respondents enjoy being able to cook a great meal (up from 57% in 2005) and 15% of us consider food to be a passion
  • More people in Ireland than Great Britain make meals from scratch – 67% of us ‘scratch cook’ several times per week (up from just 56% in 2005) compared to 64% in Great Britain

Overall, there is rising awareness of key terms such as food miles and carbon footprint. However, the environment is currently not the top priority for consumers

  • Awareness of food sustainability has grown from 41% in 2009 to 49% in 2013.
  • Almost half of those polled in Ireland (49%) are conscious of ‘food miles’ when buying groceries – up from 38% in 2007. Awareness levels in Ireland are ahead of Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the US
  • A quarter of us (25%) seek out products with low food miles

Consumers are more price conscious than ever before and are shopping around to get the best value possible

  • Price is a key driver when shopping with 64% of Irish consumers looking for price (up from 54% in 2005)
  • 79% of us believe the quality of fresh food is more important than price – higher than any other country surveyed

Health continues to be a major consumer trend, with people looking to find a balance between physical and mental wellbeing

  • We’re a health conscious nation. Over 85%  of us try to limit the amount of fast food we consume
  • Three-quarters of us (75%) make sure to get our 5-a-day – up from 57% in 2005.
  • The majority of Irish respondents (85%) feel they have a healthy diet – up from 79% in 2005. In fact, people in Ireland claim to be the most healthy in the study while Germans claim to be the least healthy
  • 9 out of 10 Irish consumers surveyed see a link between a healthy diet and a healthy mind. Ireland has the highest level of agreement with the idea that a good diet can contribute positively to mental health

Paula Donoghue, Insight and Brand Manager, Bord Bia commented “The economic reality in recent years has led many of us to reconsider what’s important in our lives. For so many people, food features prominently – whether it’s preparing meals for the family or entertaining friends. In today’s challenging environment, understanding the consumer is more important than ever for Irish food and drink exporters as they seek to build on targets set out in Food Harvest 2020. Insight such as this assists companies to be outward-lookingfuture-focused and consumer driven to anticipate changes in consumers’ lives, whilst allowing the organisation to make plan for change and act as a catalyst for innovation”.

 An infographic of the survey is available here