Nine in 10 people in Northern Ireland are concerned about the spiralling cost of food and groceries, a survey has found.
The Consumer Council said the statistic has emerged from research it is conducting into the rising cost of household bills.
The watchdog said it hoped to devise practical ideas to help ease the growing burden on budgets.
Aodhan O’Donnell, director of policy and education, asked people to contact the Consumer Council and contribute to the research by answering an online survey.
“We are aware of work done in Britain looking at how rising food costs are affecting consumers, but there hasn’t been any Northern Ireland-specific research,” said Mr O’Donnell.
“Food and everyday household items are essential to a person’s quality of life and consumers here already endure some of the highest prices in the UK for petrol and diesel, energy and car insurance.
“Consumers are voicing their concerns to us and this research will explore further how rising food and grocery costs are placing an additional strain on some household budgets.”
The Consumer Council said its initial findings showed that 96% of respondents believed that their food and grocery bills are more |expensive than a year ago. It also emerged that over 80% of people have made changes to the way they shop, cook and eat as a direct response to higher prices.
“We want to hear from consumers about how they find the cost of their weekly food shop,” said Mr O’Donnell. “We have an online survey on our website and we would call on consumers to help us by filling this out.
“It should take no longer than three minutes to complete.”
He added: “Consumers can also choose to keep a food shopping diary which entails keeping their food receipts for one week and filling out a short diary.
“We plan to use the information consumers provide to work with the retail food sector and Government to develop transparent, consumer-focused price and promotion strategies which enable consumers to manage their household budgets more effectively.”
Consumers can access the online survey at www.consumercouncil.org.uk. Copies of the food diary can be downloaded from the website or obtained by calling 0800 121 6022.
96 The percentage of people here who believe their food and grocery bills are more expensive than a year ago.
90 The percentage of those surveyed who are worried about the cost of their food and grocery shopping.
80 The percentage who have made changes to the way they shop, cook and eat as a response to higher prices.