NI Consumers' Shopping Habits Revealed

Last updated:
27 January 2016
Couple shopping
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in NI commissioned Kantar Worldwide to provide an analysis of food and drink purchasing data for NI households. The findings from the data have shown that take home food and drink alone, on average accounts for higher than recommended levels of energy, carbohydrates, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in NI commissioned Kantar Worldwide to provide an analysis of food and drink purchasing data for NI households. The findings from the data have shown that take home food and drink alone, on average accounts for higher than recommended levels of energy, carbohydrates, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt. This is without taking into account additional food and drink purchased and consumed outside of the home.

The data covers 32 food and drink categories, including the ‘marker foods’ identified in ‘A Fitter Future For All’ the Framework for Preventing and Addressing Overweight and Obesity in Northern Ireland 2012-2022. It provides demographic information, shows where we are shopping, how much we are spending, as well as providing information on the ‘big 8’ nutrients – energy, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, fat, saturated fat, fibre and salt.

Summary of key findings

  • In 2014, grocery food and drink alone accounted for: Energy 2082kcal, Protein 68g, Carbs 251g, Sugar 118g, Fat 80g, Sat Fat 30g, Fibre 19g, Salt 6.8g per person per day. This shows an excess in consumption of all nutrients against the recommended intake for an average female (Energy 2000kcal, Protein 45g, Carbs 230g, Sugar 90g, Fat 70g, Sat Fat 20g, Fibre 24g, Salt 6.5g).
  • NI households averaged 253 grocery shopping trips in 2014, consisting of one big, one medium and three small shops per week with the a £74 average weekly spend on approximately 55 items. Around one third of this grocery spend is on items being sold on promotion.
  • NI households purchase a significant amount of confectionery, including ice cream, chocolate, sweets and gum. Between 2006 and 2014, saturated fat from confectionery bought as part of the household grocery shop rose by 47%, contributing 11% of total take home fat in 2014. Sugars from confectionery purchases increased by 76% in the same period, contributing 12% of take home sugars in 2014. Around 40% of confectionery was bought on promotion.
  • The data shows that from 2006 to the end of 2013, the nutritional volume of grocery food and drink had grown by 1.4%. This figure then fell slightly in 2014. With the exception of protein which fell by just over 2%, the remainder of the ‘big 8’ nutrients had all increased – most notably fibre by 12%; sugar by 9% by 2013 but then dipped in 2014 by almost 3.5%; carbohydrates and Calories by around 7-8% each.
  • Bread products such as white, brown, baguettes, bagels and tortillas account for 10% of the nutritional volume of grocery food and drink, 11% of Calories and 13% of salt. When tea breads such as soda, fruit loaf and scones are added, these figures rise to 19%, 13% and 15% respectively.
  • In terms of where the grocery food and drink is purchased, in 2014 Tesco enjoyed 35% of the total market share, 40% of total alcohol and 35% of beer. Similarly Asda enjoyed a higher share of the alcohol market compared with its total food and drink share. In 2014 alcohol accounted for 18% of total grocery food and drink spend, with 33% of that being bought on promotion.
  • Overall, 30% of grocery food and drink was sold on promotion in 2014. Apart from confectionery and alcohol as mentioned above, soft drinks, savoury snacks such as crisps, nuts and popcorn, ready meals and meat and fish products are most likely to be sold on promotion; with starchy carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables least likely.

Next Steps

The FSA is using the data analysed on take home food and drink purchasing within NI to advise and determine future areas which we can focus on to try to ensure consumers are well informed and equipped to make healthier purchasing options. This data will also provide valuable information to assist our commitment to working with the food industry to encourage reformulation of products, the reduction in recommended serving sizes and other healthier eating initiatives.

For more information, including a copy of the report on the Kantar Worldwide data commissioned by the Food Standards Agency in NI, please contact Executive.Support@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk