Wonky veg and air fryers - how the cost of living is changing what and how we eat

consumers are looking for ways to manage budgets and to avoid paying more for their shopping. Credit: PA

Britons are buying more wonky fruit and vegetables and shunning the oven for more cost effective cooking appliances as the weekly supermarket shop rises by more than £3, according to new data.

With inflation at a 13.9% over September and energy prices soaring, consumers are increasingly looking at ways to cut costs on essentials.

Households are now paying £643 more for their supermarket shop than a year ago - that is £3.04 more than the cost of the average shopping trip in 2021, research from Kantar found. With an eye on rising bills, Kantar found households were making changes to their shopping basket in a bid to keep costs down.

Here's how our habits have been shaped by the cost of living.

Wonky fruit and veg sales are up

As the cost of living bites, sales of imperfectly shaped veg and fruit - often sold off cheaper than more aesthetically pleasing produce - have grown, with ranges such as Tesco Perfectly Imperfect or Morrisons Naturally Wonky rising by 38% in September, research from Kantar found. This is good news for the planet as it helps cut food waste, but Kantar found that faced with rising bills, value was more important to many people than sustainability with the proportion of British shoppers who try to buy products with greener packaging falling to 59% from 62% last year.

Switching off the oven and candlelit dinners

Shoppers are increasingly shunning ovens in favour of more economical ways to cook, with sales of cooking appliances including slow cookers, air fryers and sandwich makers, which generally use less energy, are up by 53%. Meanwhile sales of candles have increased by 9%, suggesting that people are taking the threat of blackouts this winter seriously.

Sales of duvets and electric blankets have also grown, up 8% ahead of winter.

People have been buying more candles amid blackout fears. Credit: PA

Choosing budget supermarkets over established big names

Shoppers are opting for budget supermarkets as they seek out better value for money amid the cost of living squeeze.

Budget supermarket Aldi recently edged out Morrisons to become one of the UK’s 'Big Four' supermarkets for the first time, adding further pressure on companies who have come under increasing pressure from the German discounters.

Sales of blankets have grown. Credit: Pexels

Asda led the way among the biggest traditional supermarkets, attracting an additional 417,000 customers over the 12-week period.

For the fifth month in a row, Lidl was the fastest growing grocer this period, pushing up its sales by 20.9% over the 12 weeks, marginally ahead of Aldi whose sales rose by 20.7%. Lidl’s share of the market is now 7.1%, up from 6.2% last year while Aldi moved to 9.3% from 8%.

People are seeking out cheaper alternatives

Kantar found that despite the squeeze on people's wallets, households were not dramatically changing their diets. Consumers were more likely to hunt out cheaper alternatives to food they know, like supermarkets’ own label goods, than stop buying them completely. And while frozen vegetable sales have gone up slightly, the research found, there has not been a big switch away from fresh products.

Supermarket own-label lines increased by 8.1% this month, while branded items declined by 0.7%.

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