This brings bad news to the pub sector, which already saw consumer spending slow by 1.2% for pubs, clubs and bars in May versus the same period in 2021, as inflation rates soar.
The FSA found the number of people using a food bank continued to grow – from around one in ten in March 2021 (9%), to nearly one in six in March 2022 (15%). What’s more, more than one in five (22% in March 2022) said they had skipped meals or cut portion sizes as they did not have enough money to buy food.
Chefs in hospitality venues are also having to navigate inflation rates through reducing their menu sizes and cutting down on portions to cope with the “tsunami of cost pressures” facing the sector.
Two years of hell
The cost-of-living crisis adds to issues facing the sector including high VAT rates for food and drink, the shortage of staff and cost of energy and fuel. Leading sector investor Luke Johnson said the industry should buckle up for “two years of hell”, and needed to “batten down the hatched and probably pray” at the UKHospitality conference yesterday (7 June).
He added: “At the end of the day, we're a discretionary spend, when people get their heating bills in winter and they see the increased food prices, they're only going to be able to spend on essentials - we're in denial if we pretend otherwise.”
Call for support
Volunteers have also called for support and advice on handling donations, including storing, preparing and distributing food safely, while avoiding food waste according to the Project on Community Food Providers.
FSA chair 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.”
“Food banks can be a trusted lifeline in the short term, but governments and regulators must also look more widely at other ways to enable people to reliably access safe and healthy food in the long term.”