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Consumer Interests (aka Wider Consumer Interests) 

How do consumers view and understand the food system, and balance their choices against multiple competing factors (including safety and standards, nutrition and health, choice, availability, affordability, sustainability, and welfare)? 

The FSA is committed to being guided by the consumer interest in the food system. This Area of Research Interest (ARI) explores and articulates consumer concerns, needs and wider interests in the food system, including around affordability, safety, health, sustainability, food waste, and welfare. Under this ARI, the FSA will build on its understanding of the public’s views, needs and priorities in relation to food.  

The major aims of this ARI include: 

  • Amplifying the consumer voice in food policy in the FSA and across Government to fulfil our role a regulator who is guided by consumers. 
  •  
  • Broadening the scope of our evidence gathering to include wider interests of consumers, in order to ensure that food policy includes the consumer perspective. 

This ARI will provide evidence on a range of issues; in particular it will explore wider interests the public see critical in shaping their food choices and lives such as household food insecurity, health and nutrition, environment and ethics, price, quality and convenience and potential food futures, and support wider efforts on healthy sustainable diet shifts. 

These issues cut across the FSA’s vision and mission. We need to understand how these issues will affect our ability to ensure that food is safe, food is what it says it is and that food is healthier and more sustainable. 

Research projects related to the programme

UK Public’s Interests, Needs and Concerns Around Food

This research has been conducted to feed into the development of our 2022-2027 strategy. The main research report provides a detailed snapshot of UK consumer interests, needs and concerns around food and what drives these.

Eating Well Choosing Better Tracking Survey - Wave 7

The Eating Well Choosing Better (EWCB) Tracking Survey monitors consumer understanding and knowledge of recommended daily calorie intake, use of traffic light labels, attitudes towards reformulation and calorie information and awareness of campaign communications delivered by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland. This report presents the findings from the seventh survey conducted between August and October 2021. 

Northern Ireland Take Home Food and Drink Purchases (2016, 2019, 2020)

In Northern Ireland, the FSA has a remit for dietary health surveillance. We commissioned Kantar Fast Moving Consumer Goods Purchase Panels (Kantar) to provide data on take-home food and drink purchasing. This report explores purchasing in 2016, 2019 and 2020 in Northern Ireland.

Healthy and Sustainable Diets: Consumer Poll

The Food Standards Agency with Ipsos MORI carried out a consumer poll in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to understand consumer behaviours and attitudes in relation to healthy and sustainable diets.

The cost of a healthy food basket in Northern Ireland in 2020

Safefood and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland (FSA) carried out research to estimate the cost of a food basket that is nutritionally adequate, realistic and acceptable for four low income household types in Northern Ireland (NI) in 2020.

Eating Well Choosing Better Tracking Survey - Wave 6

The Eating Well Choosing Better (EWCB) Tracking Survey monitors understanding and knowledge of recommended daily calorie intake, use of traffic light labels, attitudes towards reformulation and calorie information, and awareness of campaign communications delivered by the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland. This report presents the findings from the sixth survey conducted between June and August 2020.

Northern Ireland Take Home Food and Drink Purchases (2014 and 2018)

The Food Standards Agency with Kantar Fast Moving Consumer Goods (Kantar FMCG) carried out research in Northern Ireland (NI) to monitor take home food and drink purchasing. This data has been collated into a report examining key trends and identifying food and drink categories that are of concern to dietary health.

Eating Well Choosing Better Tracking Survey - Wave 5

The Eating Well Choosing Better (EWCB) Tracking Survey monitors understanding and knowledge of recommended daily calorie intake, use of traffic light labels, attitudes towards reformulation and calorie information and awareness of campaign communications delivered by the Food Standards Agency in NI to improve consumer’s understanding of healthy eating recommendations.

A survey on the nutritional content and portion sizes of cheesecake

The FSA and the 11 district councils in Northern Ireland carried out a nutritional analysis survey of cheesecake served in restaurants and hotels in Northern Ireland. The results showed that portion sizes are often very large with bigger cheesecakes containing more energy, sugar, saturated fat and salt.

The cost of a healthy food basket in Northern Ireland in 2018

Safefood and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland (FSA) carried out research to estimate the cost of a food basket that is nutritionally adequate, realistic and acceptable for four low income household types in Northern Ireland (NI) in 2018.

Eating Well Choosing Better Tracking Survey - Wave 4

The tracking survey monitors understanding and knowledge of daily recommended calorie intake, use of traffic light labels, attitudes towards calorie information when eating out and awareness of campaign communications delivered by the Food Standards Agency in NI to improve consumer’s understanding of healthy eating recommendations.

A survey on the nutritional content and portion sizes of scones

Key findings from research on sampled scones produced in Northern Ireland (NI) shows wide variations in portion size (g) and nutritional information (energy, sugar, fat, saturated fat, fibre and salt). The results will inform targeted interventions within the bakery sector, supported by technical expertise from academic institutions, to increase the availability of healthier products in local coffee shops, cafes and bakeries.

Cost of a healthy food basket for households on the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland Research)

The Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ) developed Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) and Minimum Income Standards (MIS) for a range of household types. Extending this initiative to Northern Ireland will provide data on food costs and socially acceptable food baskets which meet healthy eating guidelines and nutritional needs to provide valuable data relevant to food poverty.