convenience chilled

Shoppers are concerned the growth of convenience foods, on-the-go eating and online shopping could lead them to lose connection with the food they eat, according to new FSA research.

The study, commissioned by the FSA, Food Standards Scotland and government-backed programme Sciencewise, found consumers were worried these trends could “decrease the social and cultural importance of sharing meals”.

It will be presented to delegates at the FSA’s Our Food Future conference on 18 February, and aimed to bring the consumer voice into the debate about the future of the food system and collect important evidence to inform future policy, said the FSA.

Consumers told study authors there was a need for the food industry to provide more information on a wider range of food issues, and for the government and regulators to play “a more visible role in the future of food, to ensure that their interests are protected in a more complex world”.

The study comprised findings from an online quantitative survey of 1,383 UK participants, an online qualitative forum with 22 participants, and public meetings in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

It also revealed consumers were concerned over the increase in waste from food production and consumption, which had an “obvious detrimental impact on the environment and the sustainability of the food supply”, while food systems were becoming more opaque. Shoppers also feared access to healthy and nutritious food could be become a luxury as pricing prompted people to buy cheaper, processed food, the study found.

However, they welcomed increased clarity on food labels.

“The food supply chain is increasingly complex and already under pressure from a growing world population,” added FSA director of policy Steve Wearne. “It’s the FSA’s role to understand how this affects the interests of consumers and engage with people about how the food system should be shaped for the future.”