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Consumers opt for cheaper, unhealthy foods: Survey

13 October 2008

Consumers opt for cheaper, unhealthy foods - Green survey

A Green Party snapshot grocery shopper survey has found that many New Zealanders are increasingly unable to afford healthy food and are purchasing cheaper less healthy alternatives in order to feed their families.

The results of the snapshot showed that of those with an income of between $30,000 and $75,000, 95 percent said that that due to rising food prices they were opting for cheaper and less healthy.

In total, 60 percent of those survey said they did not purchase items they had planned to purchase on the day they were questioned due to the price. 50 percent did not buy any fresh fruit or vegetables and dairy prices sky high it came as no surprise that 75 percent did not buy milk and 90 percent did not buy cheese, Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

Many respondents said that they were purchasing less meat, vegetables, milk, cheese, and rice and instead buying more snack foods, instant noodles, canned spaghetti, biscuits, chocolate, cordial, fast foods and takeaways to feed their families.

"These results are a huge concern. Affordable fresh vegetables are essential to our health. With prices soaring, families have little choice but to choose cheaper and less nutritious alternatives to feed their families. This will have a severe impact on our nation's health," Ms Kedgley says.

"It seems supermarkets are cost-cutting the processed and less nutritious foods, while fresh fruit and vegetables are priced outside of the reach of many. One respondent commented 'Healthy food is a necessity but it is junk food that is cheap'.

"It is time for Government to address the affordability of healthy food here in New Zealand," Ms Kedgley says.

"While some of the recent price increases can be attributed to a poor growing season, we import nearly half of our food from overseas and are subject to global prices. We urgently need to protect ourselves from further price shocks by instituting a food security strategy that ensures that New Zealand can grow, produce and provide enough healthy and affordable food for our whole population. We also need an investigation into food prices in supermarkets to ensure our growers and consumers are getting treated fairly."

The food affordability survey was conduced at supermarkets in Auckland and Wellington in the suburbs of Remuera, Mangere, Khandallah and Porirua.


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