The cost of food is a “major future concern” for three quarters of UK consumers and the number using a food bank has jumped from one in 10 to nearly one in six since last year, figures suggest.
More than one in five (22%) of those surveyed in March say they skipped a meal or cut down the size of meals because they did not have enough money to buy food, according to research published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Some 76% of UK consumers say the cost of food is a major future concern, while the number of people using a food bank or food charity has grown from 9% in March last year to 15% this March, according to the agency.
The FSA said it was working with businesses to ensure that donating their food was as straightforward as possible, and to support those working in food banks and those using them to follow best practice for storage, preparation and cooking.
FSA chairwoman Professor Susan Jebb said: “In the face of the immediate pressures on people struggling to buy food, food banks are playing a vital role in our communities.
“We are urgently working with industry and other major donors, and food bank charities, to look at what more we can do together to ensure that food which is safe to eat can be redistributed to people who can benefit from this support.”
The FSA, with Defra and waste reduction organisation Wrap, have published best practice surplus food redistribution guidance.
Wrap chief executive Marcus Gover said: “We support the FSA’s efforts to address the concerns many of us have around the cost of food.
“We estimate that more than 200,000 tonnes of surplus food could still be redistributed each year.
“So, by working together we can increase the redistribution of this food, which will also reduce the environmental impact of our food and help achieve a thriving UK food system for all.”