Food Policy Research

The Consumer Council carries out research into Northern Ireland consumers’ perceptions of and attitudes to food prices and grocery shopping experiences.

We do this in partnership with other organisations such as the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland, Safefood and member organisations of the All-Island Food Poverty Network.  We use this research to lobby and campaign on behalf of Northern Ireland consumers.

Research Reports


The cost of a minimum essential food basket in Northern Ireland in 2016
The study 'The cost of a minimum essential food basket in Northern Ireland' is carried out by The Consumer Council, Safefood and the Food Standards Agency in NI. The study originated in 2014 with two household types. We updated the study in September 2016 to establish the cost of a minimum essential food basket for four of the most common household types in Northern Ireland. 

The report included the following key findings:

  • Low-income households need to spend approximately one third of their take-home income to buy a minimum essential food basket.
  • The cost of the food basket depends on household composition; food for an adolescent is similar to that for an adult.
  • Food is regarded as a flexible aspect of the household budget.
  • The social and cultural aspects of food, such as spending on takeaways and extras visitors and Christmas, are an important part of the food basket

To view the full report click here.
To view the summary sheet click here


Investigation into the balance of healthy versus less healthy food promotions among Northern Ireland food retailers
The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland (FSA in NI) in conjunction with the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland (CCNI) commissioned the Ulster University Business School to undertake research into the balance of healthy versus less healthy food promotions among Northern Ireland (NI) food retailers. The key issues identified by the investigation are set out below:   

  • Grocery stores are viewed as prime locations for shaping consumers’ food choices and to promote healthy dietary behaviour.
  • The research identified a balance in the healthiness of food retail promotions (52.5% categorised as amber/green and 47.5% or products categorised as red using FSA's Front of Pack traffic light categories).
  • Individual interviews and stakeholder engagement meetings reveal genuine commitment towards achieving an improved balance of food promotions and retailers have communicated a desire to work with FSA and the Consumer Counicl to address the recommendations in this report.
  • As a result of this investigation, seven evidence-informed recommendations have been developed as calls to action for government, consumer bodies and NI food retailers.

To view the summary report click here.


World Consumer Rights 2015 Food Survey
World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March 2015 highlighted the issue of healthy, affordable diets.  Coinciding with the occasion the Consumer Council launched an online survey to find out consumers' thoughts on the affordability of a healthy, balanced diet. The key findings from the survey are included here.

Hard to Stomach
The Consumer Council carried out consumer research in 2012 to assess the impact of rising food costs in Northern Ireland.  The key findings and recommendations are outlined in the 'Hard to Stomach' report available here.