Low income households in Northern Ireland need to spend at least one third of their take home income in order to purchase a basket of healthy food – according to a new study by the Food Standards Agency, safefood and the Consumer Council.
The cost of a healthy food basket for a pensioner living on their own is £59 per week, while for a family of four – two adults and two children – is £119 per week.
These are the main findings from Northern Ireland’s survey on the Cost of a Healthy Food Basket. The consumer-led research is the first time a cost has been put on a healthy food basket for two of the biggest household types in Northern Ireland
It asked consumers to select a realistic food basket from a taste and menu point of view, while also meeting the social needs of a household, such as hosting visitors or special occasions.
The food baskets were then reviewed by nutritionists from Ulster University to ensure they met nutritional guidelines of the UK Eatwell plate and were then price-checked accordingly.
Sharon Gilmore, Head of Standards and Dietary Health at the Food d Standards Agency in NI, said: ‘Those people experiencing food poverty and having difficulty eating an adequate diet will continue to be the focus of our work.
‘For the first time, we have sound evidence on the real cost of an essential food basket and how food issues relate to poverty and economic hardship. We need to take this evidence and develop an action plan to tackle food poverty in Northern Ireland.’