An investigation of the potential existence of "food deserts" in rural and urban areas of Northern Ireland.

Sinead Furey, Chris Strugnell, Heather Farley

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101 Citations (Scopus)


Food Deserts have recently been identified in the United Kingdom. They have been defined by Tessa Jowell, UK Government Health Minister, as an area ''where people do not have easy access to healthy, fresh foods, particularly if they are poor and have limited mobility.'' The above definition is particularly relevant in Northern Ireland, where it is estimated that 32% of households do not have easy access to a car and it is recognized that certain groups in Northern Ireland are amongst the poorest consumers in the United Kingdom. The phenomenon has been further exacerbated by the effect of large grocery retailers locating on the periphery of towns and the subsequent displacement effect of independent retailers in the town center. The resultant effect is such that disadvantaged consumers cannot access fresh, quality, nutritious foods at an affordable price. Preliminary research indicates that certain consumer groups are excluded from equitable shopping provision - possibly to the detriment of their health status. Research methodology includes a consumer questionnaire, consumer focus groups, interviews, and comparative shopping exercises that confirm an inability among vulnerable consumer groups to achieve an affordable, healthy diet. This was further complicated by non-car owners' and lower-income family units needing to shop locally and more frequently than their higher-income, car-owner counterparts. This was demonstrated with the use of shopping diaries. Future research to be conducted includes a large-scale survey across Northern Ireland to ascertain accessibility, availability, and affordability of quality fresh foods and to distinguish the consumer groups who are most vulnerable
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-457
Number of pages10
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2001


  • Accessibility
  • Affordability
  • Availability
  • food desserts
  • out0of0town


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