While the national collection of Food Banks is planned for the last weekend of November, a study by the Nestlé Foundation outlines the extent of food insecurity in Europe, which affects many more consumers than we think. While 35% of French people say they do not have enough to eat, one in five has already found themselves unable to satisfy this essential need.
While Europe was presented at the start of the week as one of the European countries hardest hit by inflation in the food department (+17.9% between January 2022 and August 2023), the Nestlé Europe Foundation reveals through of the first Food Vulnerability Observatory how food insecurity is a reality experienced by many French people, and not only since 2021 when the inflationary crisis started. This vast analysis, presented by Pascale Hébel, one of the greatest experts in deciphering consumer behavior who worked for nearly twenty years at Credoc (Research Center for the Study and Observatory of Consumer Conditions). life), indicates that the proportion of French people with a lack of means to sufficiently access food has even increased significantly since 2015. Specifically, 37% believe they are in this situation today compared to 11% eight years ago. . Also, 26% are in what can be considered severe food insecurity.
What is food insecurity?
We know about food or energy insecurity, less the notion of food insecurity. If we take the definition shared by the first French international solidarity NGO CCFD-Terre Solidaire, all those who do not have regular access to healthy food in sufficient quantity are concerned. In this case, 19% of French people say they have already been hungry without being able to satisfy it during the last twelve months. Likewise, many consumers believe they do not have the financial means to afford balanced meals. The fault is the constrained expenses linked to energy or housing which weigh on the budget of 36% of French people considering themselves food insecure.
Who are the French people concerned?
In accordance with an analysis shared by Crédoc in collaboration with Inrae and the University of Bordeaux last May, young people and women are on the front line in terms of food insecurity. If the latter are the majority (59%), the Nestlé Foundation reports that the former are the hardest hit. In the 18-24 age group, the proportion of young people concerned is much higher than the overall average (41% compared to 26%). And we can also take the measure of this critical situation by including all those under 35, or 33%.
Above all, we should not believe that the French affected by food insecurity are those who use the food aid provided by Restos du Coeur or Food Banks. While agri-food giants such as the Sodiaal group, Panzani and Bigard have just made commitments to the Ministry of Agriculture to donate or sell at cost price more than 6,000 foodstuffs, no less than 80% of consumers who could benefit from food aid simply do not use it. For what ? Because almost half of them are embarrassed to approach this type of structure.
NO to diets, YES to WW!
What is the daily life of a food insecure French person like?
If a third of French people admit to having reduced the portions of their meals, we cannot explain this situation solely by lack of income. At home, there is another reality, that of not having suitable cooking equipment and preferring home cooking. No less than a third of the French people concerned do not have appliances considered essential such as an oven or a hob. According to the Nestlé Europe Foundation, the consumers concerned generally have a refrigerator and a microwave oven. It is therefore no surprise to learn that almost half of them no longer like a cook in their home.
In terms of their purchasing habits, we knew that the French people concerned had revised their preferences to choose distributor brands (there is the famous effect of trading down) or low prices, unless they were tempted by baskets anti-inflation. According to the Food Vulnerability Observatory, 92% of consumers have changed their food purchases, more than half of whom (58%) have reduced their quantity. As a result, the composition of meals is inevitably impacted with a significant presence of prepared meals and starchy foods unlike fruits and vegetables but also so-called pleasure products, such as chocolate or chips. More worrying, 93% of French people affected by food insecurity cannot eat meat or fish at least every two days because they cannot afford it.
Even more surprising, this situation does not only have repercussions on the contents of the plates or the shopping cart. Daily life and even the organization of meals are disrupted. We knew that some French people skipped meals because they were unable to make ends meet, as indicated by an Ifop study for the Tablée des chefs last April. We therefore eat more alone at the table, and less with the family, “to mask the lack of quantity available for everyone”, underlines the Nestlé Foundation.