Trust in the food industry has fallen to a nine-year low as two-thirds of consumers feel they are being “ripped off” by convenience store prices, according to a survey.
Which?’s monthly consumer insight tracker found that trust in the groceries industry dropped in May to the lowest it has been since November 2014, with a score of 36 – a fall of 32 points since the previous high of 68 in May 2020.
A separate survey by the consumer group found that 67% of UK adults believe supermarkets are ripping people off with their convenience store prices, which can often be more expensive than larger stores.
Three-quarters (75%) also said they find the price of convenience store foods too expensive compared to larger supermarkets and nearly half (45%) struggle to find affordable food in convenience stores.
Half of those (51%) who rely on convenience stores at least once a week are struggling financially with the cost of living crisis compared to 35% of consumers overall, the poll found.
Some 57% agreed that having more budget ranges in stores would help.
Which? is calling on supermarkets to improve availability of essential budget options in their convenience stores to help consumers, especially those on a low income, to not have to pay more because they cannot get to a larger supermarket.
The Which? consumer insight tracker found 88% of consumers are worried about food prices – the highest level since the survey began in 2012.
Nearly six in ten (57%) have bought cheaper items, 39% have bought cheaper items on promotion and four in ten (40%) have shopped around, the poll found.
One in ten (11%) have skipped meals, 7% have prioritised meals for other family members and 4% have used a food bank.
An estimated 1.9 million households missed or defaulted on at least one mortgage, rent, loan, credit card or other bill in May, according to the tracker’s findings.
The 6.9% missed payment rate is in line with the level seen at the same time last year, but is still higher than in May 2021 (5.7%) and May 2020 (5.3%).
Renters remained much more likely than homeowners to have missed a payment in the last month, at 12.8% and 4.3% respectively.
More than half of households (55%) reported making at least one adjustment, such as cutting back on essentials, dipping into savings or selling possessions, to cover essential spending such as utility bills, housing costs, groceries, school supplies and medicines in the last month.
However this is the lowest level seen since April 2022.
Which? director of policy and advocacy Rocio Concha said: “Trust in the groceries industry has fallen to a nine-year low, with many consumers telling us they feel ripped off by high convenience store prices.
“People should not have to pay over the odds for everyday essentials just because they struggle to get to a large supermarket.
“While the whole food supply chain affects prices, supermarkets have the power to do more to support people who are struggling, including ensuring everyone has easy access to basic, affordable budget ranges at a store near them, including smaller stores for consumers who rely on these.
“Supermarkets must also provide transparent pricing so people can easily work out which products offer the best value.”