Are Dutch eating patterns altered by increasing supermarket prices?  

Client:

Own initiative 

Brief:

The price increase on average 18.5% on products in supermarkets is a reality for consumers. To what degree has this influenced the food shopping behavior of consumers? What are the main changes?  

Our approach:

We ran small-scale research in our Food Forum, concerning the role of price in buying food in The Netherlands. Ninety-eight participants filled out a poll, supplemented by a forum discussion where 60 participants interacted with each other and the answers that were given.   

Findings in a nutshell:

The majority, namely 58% of the participants in the study, indicate that their groceries shopping has changed because of price increases.  

More private label 

The adjusted purchasing behavior means for most participants an increased attention to weekly discounts and buying private labels. These are deemed just as good as the A-brands that the supermarkets offer, but for a lower price. However, the participants do declare that it should not be at the expense of other properties of food (such as taste and health).  

“I sometimes try private label, but I refuse to compromise on taste or quality, and I have increased the number of vegetables, fruits and herbs that I grow on my balcony and windowsill”.  

Nancy, 56 

Compromise on convenience 

There is a minority of the participants that buys larger packs of non-perishable goods and freezes perishable goods. On top of that, a number of the participants describe an increase in self-sufficiency, baking their own bread and growing their own vegetables and fruits. They avoid pre-cut vegetables and complete meal packages, to save money. 

Focus on discounts 

The folders with weekly offerings are checked more profoundly and are used to plan the meals for the coming week. Participants choose to invest more time in doing groceries, to be able to save money.  

“I use the different folders of different supermarkets to make a list, letting my week menu depend on the discounts offered”. 

Linda, 60  

Products that are discounted because of an approaching expiration date and the so-called ‘misfits’ are bought in increasing numbers, to counteract the waste of food, but most of all to save money.  

Less luxury 

Approximately one-third of the participants indicate that they think more profoundly about the need for certain unnecessary luxury products, like candy and crisps. These will not be bought, or bought less, to save money. The focus is therefore placed on the preservation of quality and taste of essential products, instead of luxury products. The luxury products are now predominantly purchased for special occasions. 

The 42% of the participants who indicate that they have not changed their purchasing behavior, mostly say that they already were very price conscious when buying food. 

“I have not actually adjusted the way I do groceries, because I was already a price-conscious buyer, that will not be drastically changing. Perhaps I will leave some unnecessary things out”.   

Micha, 41 

The keyword that emerges, considering the changes in the purchasing behavior of consumers, led by the increasing product price is consciousness. Consumers think more consciously about what is necessary for a healthy diet, try to replace the needed products with cheaper versions and do not buy products that are not needed.   


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