Consumer spending on groceries in the Irish Republic has fallen 10% or 600 a year over the past two years, according to a report by government food agency Bord Bia.

The report, based on ­research by Kantar Worldpanel, says the average household grocery bill is now 5,572 a year, down from 6,172 two years ago. It blames the recession for the drop in spending, with shoppers opting for cheaper food and more own-label products, which now account for a third of all groceries bought, compared with just 16% a decade ago.

However, the report indicates that spending levels may be stabilising, a suggestion that will please market leader Tesco, which added a new outlet to its Irish portfolio this week. Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who opened the Tesco Extra in Naas, County Kildare, welcomed the 30m investment and the 266 jobs it would provide as "a vote of confidence".

But the fragile Irish economy, crippled by the largest budget deficit in the EU, a banking crisis and 13% unemployment, was underlined by the fact that Tesco had to cap at 3,000 the number of applications being considered to fill the 266 jobs.

It is against that background that, according to the report, consumers are shopping more often and spending less.

Meanwhile retailers have reported a surge in sales of previously unpopular cuts of meat, as shoppers seek to economise by cooking more stews and casseroles.