Four in 10 New Zealanders say they spend more than $200 a week on food - an increase of 35 per cent 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 per cent from 12 per cent 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 per cent from 14 per cent 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.
He also thought some underlying pressures on the cost of food were likely to increase over the next 12 months.
The survey showed that the cost of living was also one of the significant concerns that New Zealanders had, he said.
"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 per cent of those interviewed said they regularly ate their 5+ a day, down from 60 per cent last year.
Cost was identified as a major obstacle to eating more fruit and vegetables among Kiwis not always getting their 5+ a day, Holgate said.
"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 per cent last year to 5 per cent, and the number of people identifying as vegetarian rose to 9 per cent.
"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 per cent), in comparison to those saying they plan to eat more (7 per cent)."
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 per cent of those surveyed in the past year, with Uber Eats closely behind, at 31 per cent.
"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."