Making lists and buying own-brand: cost of living crisis creating more savvy shoppers

Foods such as lamb and seafood taking a hit as shoppers look for value and bulk cook more

The cost of living crisis is reshaping how Irish consumers shop and cook with more people making lists, embracing own-brand and turning away from certain foods while focusing on frugal living, according to a new report from Bord Bia.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Bord Bia has been tracking consumers in Ireland - and in key markets for Irish food producers including the UK, the US and Germany - and its new research focuses on the cost of living crisis.

The Inflationary Impact 2022 study was conducted among just under 10,000 consumers in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the US and France and says that 44 per cent of people view their current financial position as either poor or very poor while just 7 per cent believe it to be excellent.

The remaining 50 per cent describe themselves as comfortable, a decline of nine percentage points in 12 months.


According to the survey, globally there has been a 22 point net increase of shopping in discounters over the last year. In Ireland, that increase has been even higher at 30 per cent.

The numbers buying own-label products has also climbed with 44 per cent of those who took part in the study saying they were looking to stores’ own-labels to save money with a shift toward the “value” ranges offered by supermarkets rather than the so-called premium ranges noted.

The study also highlights the growing number of Irish consumers who make lists before shopping, with 54 per cent of Irish consumers say making lists has become more important in recent months.

Cooking from scratch is holding its own, with Ireland out-performing the world and while the percentage of people saying they were cooking more from scratch in the UK, Germany, France and the US was put at 41 per cent, it rises to 48 per cent in Ireland and falls to 31 per cent in Germany.

People are also cooking smarter and cutting back on foods that are single use or have less perceived versatility or shelf-life.

Sales of pre-packaged bakery items - which have a shorter shelf life - have fallen sharply, the study suggests.

Meanwhile, more expensive meat like lamb and seafood have also performed poorly as consumers seek out foods that can offer them more than one dish or a single meal.

Sales of lamb are down 32 per cent while seafood sales have declined 33 per cent.

People are doing more bulk cooking and meal prep, suggesting they are looking for products that can be stretched out over several meals with 39 per cent of Irish consumers saying bulk cooking and meal prepping have become more important in recent months.

Grace Binchy, a trends and insight specialist with Bord Bia, said the report illustrated how people are “scrutinizing how they’re spending money [and] shopping more across multiple stores to get the best deal”.

She notes that 51 per cent of Irish consumers are shopping now in multiple stores and a higher percentage are going to discounters, while specialist stores and local stores have “lost a little bit of momentum”

“We’re creating shopping lists and sticking to them. That allows us to have control and we know that’s what people like in times of uncertainty.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast