accessibility & help

Spitalfields market stall highlights the impact of high food prices

12 October 2011

Hardeep Singh Kohli© InfoShoppers at Spitalfields market will be in for a shock tomorrow when food prices skyrocket 500 – 800 per cent as part of a British Red Cross campaign highlighting the impact of high food prices on poorer countries.

In countries experiencing food insecurity, poorer people are forced to spend 50 to 80 per cent of their income on food. In the UK, on average, people spend around 11 per cent of their incomes on food.

The Red Cross is setting up a ‘food insecurity market stall’ at London’s Spitalfields market tomorrow (Thursday 13 October), hosted by TV broadcaster and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli, who is supporting the charity’s Seeds of Change campaign.

Massive increase in food prices

The stall will show how shoppers in the UK would be affected if they paid similar prices to poorer people living in developing countries.

If Britons had to spend 50 to 80 per cent of their income on food, here’s how much staple supermarket items would cost:

  • loaf of bread – UK price 90p; food insecure price £4.50 - £7.20
  • bunch of bananas – UK price £1; food insecure price £5 - £8
  • tin of baked beans – UK price 70p; food insecure price £3.50 - £5.60
  • pint of milk – UK price 50p; food insecure price £2.50 - £4
  • packet of sausages – UK price £1.69; food insecure price £8.45 - £13.52

Hardeep Singh Kohli said: “Food prices have gone up in the UK, but it would be a real shock for someone in this country to get to the supermarket and find a loaf of bread suddenly costs £7 - £10. For someone living in a food-insecure country, these kinds of prices are a reality.”

World’s biggest health threat

A young girl eats nutrient-rich porridge in Kenya© InfoDavid Peppiatt, Red Cross international director, said: “Food insecurity causes malnutrition, the biggest threat to the world’s health today. It causes millions of deaths each year – more than AIDS, malaria and TB combined.

“Our food insecurity market today will give the public a rare first-hand experience of what an increasing number of people around the world are facing.”

According to the United Nations, at least 925 million people around the world are affected by food insecurity, but an ICM poll for the British Red Cross shows that one-third of the UK public has never even heard the term, and has a limited understanding of the issues behind it.

How would your life change?

The results of the poll – which surveyed over 2,000 people – showed wildly varying understanding of how being forced to spend a vastly increased proportion of their incomes on food might affect people.

While nine out of ten Britons said they would find it difficult to maintain their lifestyles if faced with such rises, when asked what changes they would consider making to cope, suggestions ranged from the inadequate “cutting off broadband internet” and “not eating out”, to the more realistic selling of homes and possessions to raise money for food, and even one suggestion of living in a tent.

However, 55 per cent of respondents agreed that providing longer term help – such as livelihoods support – would be an effective way to prevent famine.

Understanding a complex issue

David said: “Hopefully the experience of the food insecurity market will provide more understanding on how devastating food insecurity can be to people’s lives.

“It is a complicated issue, to do with high food prices and the many things that affect food availability and accessibility – such as conflict, drought, floods, and other pressures.
“Aid agencies talk about food insecurity, but unless we better communicate the issues behind it, and what we can do to tackle it, we cannot blame the public for not understanding the term.”

Find a map to the market stall event

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