According to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (Bfap)’s June 2007 to 2012 agricultural baseline, SA consumers are showing increasing interest in convenience food purchasing and consumption. Hester Vermeulen, consumer researcher at Bfap, said 61% of consumers consider convenience the most important factor when selecting a retail outlet.
She said the “food-away-from-home” consumption trend is also growing. From 2001 to 2006 the portion of the local adult population eating at restaurants increased from 21,7% to 27,4%, while the portion purchasing food from permanent fast food outlets increased from 32% to 38,1%. She said this could step up growth in commodities that are used as ingredients in these sectors.
Vermeulen said even though the convenience trend is applicable to a wide portion of the SA population, even to poorer consumers in terms of affordable convenience, it is associated with a price premium. Preliminary results of the analysis of selected retail prices indicate that the price premium for convenience varies. For example, onions (peeled versus whole) 12,6%, lettuce (pillow pack versus whole) 30,1%, butternut (peeled diced versus whole) 31,4%, and carrots (peeled diced versus whole) 13,5%.
She said the duality of the SA consumer market has a strong influence on food consumption patterns observed in the local food market. Basic food security is a major concern for low-income consumers, in terms of the availability of an adequate quantity of affordable food to satisfy basic nutritional requirements.
“Some 17% of people said that they could not afford to eat the correct food, compared to 22% in 2005 and 30% in 2003,” Vermeulen said, adding that the poverty of these consumers is evident from observations based on the food cash expenditure of the Living Standards Measure groups one to three. These consumers spend 46,1% to 70,8% of their total money on food items. However, she said the food purchasing and consumption behavior of middle- and high-income consumers are indicative of food trends based on increasingly complex food requirements, usually reflecting global food consumption trends. – Wilma den Hartigh