When Do Food Prices Get Too High?

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A new survey by Ingredient Communications has found shoppers will stop buying a food, beverage, or nutrition item when its price increases an average of 40%.

When it came to individual products, consumers were willing to accept the highest price increase on milk, which could rise by an average of over 52% before consumers said they would stop buying it. This was followed by bread (51.8%), meat (50.6%), coffee (48.3%), bottled water (46.7%), fresh vegetables (47.2%) and fresh fruit (45.3%). Some of the lowest thresholds came from sweets and snack products. The survey found chocolate could only rise an average of 31.3% and potato chips by 32.8% before U.S. consumers would stop buying them. 

Consumers are also starting to switch to private brands when costs became a concern, the survey found. Of those surveyed, 58% said they switched to a less expensive brand in the previous three months because of a price increase in their original choice. And 28% said they had switched to a retailer's brand for that item.

The December online survey asked more than 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and U.K. to pick a point at which they would no longer purchase different items because of a price increase.