Shoppers have been turning their backs on luxury foods in favour of cheaper meals as the credit crunch bites, according to research revealed today.

The survey by Mintel found that in the past 12 months, 41 per cent of shoppers have switched to cheaper brands and three in 10 (34 per cent) have cut down on buying from premium ranges, such as Tesco Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference.

“It is clear that shoppers are now really feeling the pinch and beginning to trade down when buying food,” said Mintel director of retail research Richard Perks. “During the recent years of unprecedented prosperity in Britain, we saw a very noticeable shift towards premium, upmarket food, with shoppers buying more luxurious ready meals and exotic produce. But in the space of just a few months, this trend has already started to be reversed.”

The survey also found that two thirds (66 per cent) of shoppers now look for promotions more often than they did a year ago, while 29 per cent spend more time comparing prices in the supermarket.

The rise of discounters such as Aldi and Lidl is also apparent, with 31 per cent of shoppers using the value supermarkets more than they used to.

“The major battle of this recession will be the fight between the hard discounters and the market leading superstores,” said Perks. “Asda is focusing on its entry level prices and Tesco has just launched an ultra low priced range called Market Value. With this shift they are making it very clear that they will not just lie back and watch their market share being whittled away by the likes of Lidl and Aldi.”