Four in 10 New Zealanders say they spend more than $200 a week on food - an increase of 35 percent on last year, new research shows.
A KANTAR survey of 1509 people in early April, commissioned by agri-banking specialist Rabobank and food rescue charity KiwiHarvest, found households are spending significantly more on food than they were a year ago.
Rabobank's head of sustainable business development Blake Holgate said he wasn't surprised.
"With food prices rising strongly over recent months, it's no surprise to see household food spend has increased markedly from a year ago," he said.
"At the top end, the number of Kiwi households saying they spend more than $300 per week jumped to 15 percent from 12 percent last year, while at the other end of the spectrum, the percentage of households spending less than $100 per week has dropped to just 11 percent from 14 percent previously."
Holgate said with inflation impacting prices for most goods and services, he wasn't expecting the squeeze at the checkout to ease this year.
"I think some of those underlying pressures on the cost of food are likely to increase over the next 12 months," he said.
"But what we did know from the survey is that the cost of living is also one of the significant concerns or issues that New Zealanders have.
"So what will be interesting, over the next 12 months, is looking at if those food prices get to a point that New Zealanders are looking at how they can adapt or change their behaviour in a way that can perhaps reduce the burden or cost that food is having on their overall budget."
Holgate said the research also found some people were eating less fruit and veggies - just 57 percent of those interviewed said they regularly ate their 5+ a day, down from 60 percent last year.
"Among Kiwis not always getting their 5+ a day, cost was also identified as a major obstacle to eating more fruit and veggies.
"This was cited by just over half of respondents who fell into this bucket, well ahead of the next most frequently provided reasons which were 'not having enough time to prepare them' and 'not being able to get to the shops often enough'."
The number of respondents saying they identified as vegan rose from 2 percent last year to 5 percent, and the number of people identifying as vegetarian rose to 9 percent.
"In line with the increased number of New Zealanders favouring plant-based diets, we've also seen a continuation of the trend towards lower meat consumption in 2022," Holgate said.
"As with last year, there are many more Kiwis in the survey flagging a desire to eat less meat (29 percent), in comparison to those saying they plan to eat more (7 percent)."
And the use of food delivery services is increasing, with services such as HelloFresh, Uber Eats and My Food Bag seeing strong growth in the past year.
HelloFresh was found to be the most commonly-used food service app, used by 33 percent of those surveyed in the past year, with Uber Eats closely behind, at 31 percent.
"National and regional Covid-19 lockdowns are likely to have played a role in helping drive uptake of these services over recent years, while the convenience and growing range of choice offered by these services are further key factors," Holgate said.
"And with app usage particularly prominent among younger Kiwis and urban-based Kiwis, it's likely these apps will play an increasingly significant role in the way New Zealanders purchase food over the years ahead."