The upward trend in the prices of essential goods has changed the eating habits of most Greeks, who are increasingly switching to cheap and unhealthy food.
Geopolitical events, shrinking incomes and inflationary pressures, combined with rising energy and transport prices, are causing further belt-tightening and pushing consumers into new buying habits. In this context, the people of the country are reducing their spending, choosing fewer and cheaper products.
A nationwide survey conducted by Ierax Analytics between May 20 and May 26, 2022 among 1,017 people examines the extent to which the rise in prices of staple foods seen over the past six months has affected eating habits, increasing the consumption of unhealthy and cheap food.
As the head of Ierax Analytix, Haris Lalatsis, notes to APE-MPE, “price increases have significantly affected the eating habits of the majority of respondents (75%), people over 50 years of age have been most affected.”
Increased consumption of less healthy foods
According to Mr. Lalatsis, the economic situation of the consumer household plays an important role in eating habits. In particular, 41% of those who are financially well-off were not affected at all by price increases.
Also important is the fact that 41% say they are consuming fewer healthy foods than they did six months ago. This indicates a large deviation from healthy and fresh food (vegetables, fruits) according to Mr. Lalatsis. 16% buy more junk food and therefore consume more empty calories than before.
It is worth noting that 66% of respondents in the last six months buy less food due to inflation, which is observed mainly in the category of people over 50 years old (75%), while the corresponding percentage of young people aged 18-30 is 57% . At the same time, the financial situation plays an important role in the amount of food that citizens buy, as 93% of those who cannot afford it now buy less food. It is noticed that now they buy less fresh products than those who are in a more prosperous financial situation.
In addition, 67% of respondents, compared with the previous half, are now more attentive to the price tags. Of course, with age it seems that the respondents feel it more. Even those who are financially prosperous now look at prices more closely than before (75%). It seems to have had a big impact on those who have financial problems.
The Greeks switched to more “dangerous” products for health
No less important is the fact that 32% of respondents said they are now less interested in the quality of food than in the previous six months. This means that 1/3 deviates from the criterion of food quality and therefore switches to unhealthy (junk food, literally junk food, empty calories).
“When two burgers cost half as much as a salad with fresh vegetables, we understand what the consumer will choose in order to “eat, satisfy hunger,” says Mr. Lalacis, adding: “Overweight people in America are not rich at all, but usually those who are in the lower economic strata of society.”
A study by Ierax Analytics shows the first warning signs of this shift from fresh to unhealthy foods. “While fruits and vegetables are more affordable in Greece, almost half say they buy less healthy food than they did six months ago. “What will be the picture in a year, if prices continue to rise?” – Says the expert.
2/3 of consumers look more at the price of products and switch their attention from the label and ingredients to the cost. But in doing so, they ignore the low nutritional value of the foods they choose and end up consuming empty calories.
“Let us note that 66% have reduced the amount of food they bought before. People have restricted their diet and are therefore not getting the calories and nutrients they need. Unfortunately, the negative consequences for the healthcare system will be visible in the coming years,” Mr. Lalatsis emphasized.