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Research project

Consumer insights tracker

Research and consumer insight on behaviours and attitudes to food insecurity, food availability, consumer concerns and confidence in the food chain.

Last updated: 23 November 2021

The Food Standards Agency with Ipsos MORI carried out tracking research in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to understand consumer behaviours and attitudes with regards to the following topics: 

  • Food insecurity (including food affordability) 
  • Food availability  
  • Consumer concerns in relation to food 
  • Confidence in the food supply chain and the FSA as a regulator 


The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has used various tracking surveys to understand consumer’s behaviours and attitudes about food insecurity, food availability, concern, and confidence in the food supply chain. This publication pulls together the findings from these surveys, including recent data from our COVID-19 consumer tracker, and from our newly established ‘Consumer Insights tracking survey’ (established in November 2021) to provide the latest findings on these topics. Further detail about survey methodology is provided within the report.  

Key findings 

Food availability  

Latest data shows that 28% of participants reported feeling worried about food availability in November 2021. This was even higher in October 2021 (32%); a similar proportion to April 2020, during the first UK national lockdown (31%). 

Over half of participants (53%, in November 2021) reported at least one type of food as ‘unavailable’ when doing their food shopping, however most participants were able to find a suitable substitute for items that were ‘unavailable’. 

Food affordability and food insecurity  

The proportion of participants who are worried about food affordability is almost as high now (25% in November 2021) as in April 2020, during the first UK national lockdown (28%).   

The proportion of participants who reported cutting down the size of meals or skipping meals because they could not afford to buy food was 21% in November 2021; this is higher than in April 2020 (18%).  

Perceptions and concerns in relation to the food industry 

There is increasing concern amongst participants about the quality of food produced inside the UK; 35% in November 2021 reported feeling concerned compared to just 26% in December 2020. 

With regards to Christmas and New Year, participants are most concerned about the price (62%) and availability of food (48%), while smaller proportions are concerned about the quality (37%) and safety (31%) of food for Christmas and New Year (November 2021). 

Confidence in the food system and its regulator 

4 in 5 participants (80%) are confident that the food supply chain in the UK ensures that food is safe to eat. However, a smaller proportion of participants (57%) are confident that the food supply chain in the UK provides affordable food options for everyone (November 2021).  

Most participants reported that they trust the FSA to do its job (61% in November 20201), whilst only 5% did not trust the FSA. Around a quarter reported that they ‘neither trust, nor distrust’ the FSA (28%).  

Research reports

Consumer insights tracker report: key findings from December 2021 to March 2022