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Food insecurity

What impact do food insecurity and other disparities have on the consumer and the food system? 

Food prices in the UK are rising rapidly. Alongside other rising costs, particularly energy, this has meant UK consumers are increasingly struggling to afford food, and this issue is escalating rapidly.  

The FSA has been tracking consumer experiences of food access and affordability for some years. Our data tells us that increasing numbers of consumers are being forced to make difficult choices when it comes to food.  

To support the delivery of the new FSA Strategy, we have recently undertaken a new study to establish, explore and prioritise consumer interests, needs and concerns in relation to food in the UK. The report (2022) shows that food affordability and food insecurity is currently the most important aspect in consumer decision making and the way that people think and feel about food. When asked, 76% of people reported the price of food as a major concern for the future. We will continue to monitor and report high quality data on these areas, to inform our own work and those making decisions across the food system. 

The main aims of this ARI are: 

  • Synthesising the evidence base in this space to identify evidence gaps.
  • Working with others in the research community to identify and fill evidence gaps.
  • Investigating how food insecurity could affect food safety both inside and outside of home. 

Although alleviating poverty is not an FSA policy lead, food affordability cuts right across the FSA’s vision and mission. We need to understand how rising food prices and rising levels of food insecurity – which have consequences for consumers’ behaviour and for the food system more generally – 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.  

This ARI is a new area of focus within the FSA and is currently undergoing further development.


Research projects related to the programme

Household food insecurity in the UK: data and research landscape

To inform the Food Standards Agency (FSA)’s approach to future collaborations and research priorities related to household food insecurity in the UK, an evidence-mapping exercise was commissioned to give the FSA an overview of household food insecurity data and the landscape of the type of research questions related to food insecurity that have been explored in the UK context.