The FOOD Barometer 2023, a study launched annually within the scope of the initiative with the same name, coordinated by the Edenred Group, together with 25 public partners and universities, concluded that there is a growing concern about creating a healthy diet.

According to the study, 90% of respondents say they pay more attention to the balance of their meals and 51% even indicate that, in the last year, they changed their habits to start eating better. In a context of inflation, in which 97% of people expect food prices to continue to rise and when 50% of Portuguese people already spend more than 30% of their monthly budget on food, the loss of purchasing power requires more and more cuts under this heading. On the restaurant side, more than half admit they are serving fewer customers. Trying to meet new consumer expectations, 52% indicate that they already offer healthy and more balanced options.

These are some of the main conclusions of the FOOD 2023 Barometer, a study that is coordinated by the Edenred Group and some of its partners, including the General Directorate of Health and the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences of the University of Porto. The FOOD Program (Fighting Obesity through Offer and Demand), which aims to promote a balanced diet at lunch through various actions with employees, companies and restaurants.

In Portugal, the FOOD 2023 Barometer had more than 1300 responses, highlighting yet another global trend, already observed last year: the role of meal vouchers (meal card) in guaranteeing the food budget, as well as improving the quantity and food quality.

People want to eat better, but they can't afford it

The FOOD Barometer reveals that 90% of Portuguese people are more aware of healthy eating. 93% of respondents indicated that health is the main motivation for wanting to change habits, followed by the search for greater dietary diversity (72%) and environmental/animal issues (68%).

51% of Portuguese people even say that in the last year, they changed their eating habits to eat better. 84% also revealed that they take the nutritional index into account in the choices they make. However, considering the total number of lunches and dinners, only 23% of people eat between 11 and 14 healthy meals per week. 28% of Portuguese people have between 7 and 9 balanced meals, 30% between 4 and 6 meals and 20% less than 3.

Given the context of inflation, which already last year led people to cut back on food expenses, half of Portuguese people spend more than 30% of their monthly budget on food, with 17% spending more than 40%. According to data from Eurostat, in 2019, Portuguese food spending averaged around 16% of the monthly budget.

With 97% of Portuguese people believing that food prices will continue to rise in the coming months, currently, 70% of people say that at the end of the month, they no longer have food allowance money available and need to use other means to pay for meals. It should be remembered that, despite the amount of the exempt subsidy on meal cards being €9.60/day, according to a study carried out by Netsonda for Edenred, the Portuguese receive an average of €5.77/day. If they were paid more, people believe that they would: improve the quality of their meals (75%), increase the amount of food at lunch (54%), buy more products to prepare meals (87%) and go to restaurants more often lunchtime (42%).