Consumer survey asks: “How expensive is too expensive for food?”

In general, survey respondents said they would stop buying a food, beverage, or nutritional product once its price rose an average of 40% over its original price.

Supply chain and other disruptions have caused global food prices to spike. A new survey of 1000 U.S. and UK consumers aimed to find out how much of a price increase consumers are willing to incur before deeming a food, beverage, or nutritional product too expensive to purchase. The survey was commissioned by UK-based PR agency Ingredient Communications and fielded by market research consultant SurveyGoo.

In the survey, 94% of respondents said their food shopping bills have increased, with 79% attributing the increase to supply chain problems. In general, survey respondents said they would stop buying a food, beverage, or nutritional product once its price rose an average of 40% over its original price.

Diving deeper, the survey found that shoppers are more likely to continue paying rising prices for low-cost staple goods such as milk (for which they’d pay up to 65% more), bread (they’d pay 62% more), and fresh vegetables (they’d pay 60% more).

However, they were much more likely to be price sensitive when comes to nutritional products like protein powder (which they would stop buying after the price rose an average of 17%), probiotics (deemed prohibitive at a price increase of 23%), dietary supplements (prohibitive at a 26% price increase), and omega-3 fish oil supplements (prohibitive at a 28% price spike).

Price increases are also driving more consumers to lower-cost options. For instance, 48% of respondents said they had switched to a cheaper product brand over the past three months, and 26% said they now opt for a retailer’s private-label product instead.

In a press release, Richard Clarke, managing director of Ingredient Communications, advised: “In such challenging market conditions, brands will need to work hard to retain consumer loyalty. An effective way to achieve this is to demonstrate added value by using high-quality ingredients that provide clear differentiation and command high levels of trust, whether that’s through proven efficacy, sustainability, strong co-branding, or a combination of these. These values, communicated effectively, will tie a consumer to a brand more closely, mitigating the impact of price increases on purchasing behavior.”