Communities across the UK which need help to access affordable food have been identified in a groundbreaking study by researchers at the University of Leeds.
The Consumer Data Research Centre at Leeds, working with consumer champion Which? developed the Priority Places for Food Index as part of a national campaign to urge supermarkets to support consumers through the cost of living crisis.
We need to do all that we can to support those most in need to access affordable, healthy and sustainable foods.
They considered factors such as deprivation, lack of supermarket provision and a lack of available transport - all of which can make it difficult for people to find healthy and affordable food.
Michelle Morris, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Lifestyle Analytics at the University of Leeds, said: “With so many people in the UK already suffering from food insecurity and the cost of living crisis making that much worse, we need to do all that we can to support those most in need to access affordable, healthy and sustainable foods.
“That is why the Consumer Data Research Centre has developed the Priority Places for Food Index in collaboration with Which? Our interactive map makes it easy to identify neighbourhoods most in need of support and highlights the main reasons that they need this support, recognising that one size does not fit all, and that tailored help is required.”
Which? believes supermarkets need to do more to support all consumers through the crisis by making sure food prices are easy to understand to make budgeting much simpler, making sure budget lines that enable healthy choices are available throughout stores and online, and providing targeted promotions to support people in the areas that are struggling the most.
As part of its newly launched Affordable Food For All campaign, Which? has created a 10-point plan to help supermarkets provide the support people around the country desperately need in order to feed themselves through the ongoing crisis.
The Priority Places for Food Index finds that, in England, the North East is the worst impacted, with almost half (45%) of local areas in dire need of extra support. This is due to a tendency to have relatively poor access to online shopping deliveries, a poorer than average proximity to supermarkets and higher need for family food support such as food banks, eligibility of free school meals and take up of healthy start vouchers.
Across the other regions, Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands and the North West all have about a third of local areas in the region especially in need of extra help, according to the findings.
In areas where retail provision is closer to the national average, such as Bradford West which appears at number 15, socio-economic barriers and fuel poverty are relatively high, but supermarkets could make a big difference by providing targeted support such as a healthy budget range and investing in targeted promotions that support healthy and more affordable choices.
Sue Davies, Which? Head of Food Policy said: “We know that millions of people are skipping meals through the worst cost of living crisis in decades, but our new research tells us where around the UK support is most urgently needed.
“The big supermarkets have the ability to take action and make a real difference to communities all around the UK. That’s why we’re calling on them to ensure everyone has easy access to budget food ranges that enable healthy choices, can easily compare the price of products to get the best value and that promotions are targeted at supporting people most in need.”
Contact Kersti Mitchell in the University of Leeds press office via firstname.lastname@example.org
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