As fresh food prices rise, nutritious food is becoming inaccessible

Winter is the season to eat healthily to prevent illness, but lots of people in Cardiff can’t afford to due to the rise in food costs

Assistant grower Rhiannon Crocombe proudly shows off her organic produce Image Credit: Hansa Tote

People in Cardiff are choosing to buy cheaper, more processed foods that will last longer, and are avoiding buying as much fresh produce, due to the rise in food prices which have gone up by 12.2% since September 2023.

An October study by the BBC Good Food Nation found that 28% of people in the UK are eating less healthily due to the current cost of fresh and healthy food, with 19% of the 2,013 people surveyed saying they have turned to processed foods due to them being cheaper.

With winter now upon us, it is more important than ever for people to be taking care of their diet, with healthy eating helping “To better protect people from winter illnesses” according to the British Heart Foundation.

This is supported and encouraged by Wales Centre for Public Policy who state, “Lacking stable access to affordable, good quality food can be extremely damaging.”

This hike in food prices has been felt in Cardiff, with Rhiannon Crocombe, an assistant grower at Coed Organic, a market garden in south Wales, stating that as fuel has become more expensive, they have been forced to raise the prices their organic produce this year. “We’ve had to put them up, they’ve gone up about 10% this year, which is quite a lot, quite a hike” she said.

This has not proven popular with frequent buyers who have been leaving “Negative feedback” due to the price rises and are instead having to fill their cupboards with tins and frozen meals as they cannot afford the pricier produce.

The veg-expert added fresh food options are key to a healthy lifestyle, saying they are: “What we need, vitamins and minerals.”

But she understands why people are choosing processed over fresh food. “Obviously it’s tricky on a limited budget,” she said.

Cardiff resident Sharon Deem said she has noticed herself buying less fresh food due to the costs, stating she tries to make it last as long as possible. The 65-year-old further stated that she was concerned about her health because of this. “If you don’t eat properly, you don’t stay healthy, but what can you do?”

Top Tips for stretching your food with assistant grower Rhiannon Crocombe:

  • Store your herbs like flowers! Put the stems in a glass of water and they’ll last much longer. 
  • Store your vegetables in the fridge, submerged in water. 
  • If you’re buying carrots with the top on, remove the leafy greens before storage.
  • Don’t throw away the carrot tops! They can be made into a pesto – see a recipe here