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22nd Sep 2023

SPAM banished from kitchen cupboards as modern staples muscle in

Jack Peat

Corned beef, Bovril and tinned peaches have also been given the boot

British cupboards are now home to staples few would have heard of in 1980 – like couscous, harissa and coconut milk, according to a study.

Research among 2,000 adults found one in three homes now have a bottle of soy sauce available at all times, 10 per cent always have rice crackers and 25 per cent consider balsamic vinegar an essential ingredient.

However, corned beef, condensed milk and spam are only like to be found a parent or grandparent’s cupboard – along with tinned peaches (27 per cent), tinned sardines (21 per cent) and Bovril (21 per cent).

But some favourites have stood the test of time, with baked beans, biscuits, tinned soup, chopped tomatoes, tinned tuna, and lentils still commonplace after 40 years.

The study was commissioned by SPAR to launch its ‘Giving One Million Meals’ project with charity FareShare (

SPAR is donating £250,000, with contributions from Coco-Cola and Robinsons, and for every £1 given, FareShare can redistribute enough food for the equivalent of four meals to people in need across the UK.

Suzanne Dover, spokesperson for the community retailer, said: “We understand how important it is to have the cupboard essentials you need to hand and it’s really interesting to see how these essentials have changed over the years and which are still our firm favourites.”

Almost a fifth (18 per cent) believe there are five to 10 items at the back of their cupboards which are long past their use by date.

And 61 per cent even think they’ve got spices, tins or bags with foodstuffs that are up to four years old.

Exactly one in 10 respondents say they can’t remember the last time they had a proper sort-out of their kitchen cupboards, as 52 per cent admit they worry about throwing away and wasting staple foodstuffs.

Just over eight in 10 (83 per cent) are likely to save cooked food and use them as leftovers, rather than throw them away.

Of these, 79 per cent hate to see food wasted, and 51 per cent fret about how much more expensive food is now, according to the data.

To bulk out their meals, 48 per cent are adding more vegetables, and 32 per cent will include old leftovers into a new meal.

Around a fifth (19 per cent) will experiment with the items in their cupboards to enhance a meal they’re making and reduce waste.

When it comes to helping others, half of us (49 per cent) have donated to food banks and charities to give back – with 19 per cent donating more to food bank in recent years to help with the cost-of-living crisis.

Polly Bianchi, director of fundraising at FareShare, added: “The donation will make a significant contribution to our work getting good-to-eat food, which might otherwise go to waste, to people who need it.

“As the winter months approach, our network of 8,500 charities across the UK will be working hard to provide hearty, nourishing meals for people in their communities.

“Each group provides vital wraparound services to support people impacted by the cost of living crisis and the contribution made will go a long way to strengthening those communities.”

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