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UK Inflation eases but food prices remain high

Recent data from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates a slight easing in the rate of food inflation, yet the cost of food remains significantly higher than in previous years, continuing to impact household budgets.

As of October 2023, the inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages has moderated to 10.1%, down from a peak of 19.2% in March 2023. This decrease, the most notable in over four decades, comes as a relief but does not fully alleviate the financial strain on consumers.

The decrease is primarily attributed to lower prices in categories such as milk, cheese, eggs, and vegetables. For instance, the price increase for these items slowed to 7.9% in October 2023, compared to 12.3% in September.

Despite this slowdown, the overall price level of food is approximately 30% higher than in October 2021. This persistent high cost is particularly challenging for households, as food is a non-substitutable essential.

Impact on Household Budgets

The sustained high prices have a disproportionate impact on lower-income households, which typically allocate a larger portion of their budget to essentials like food and energy.

The ONS reports that more than 40% of adults in Great Britain have had to spend more than usual on their food shopping in recent weeks. Additionally, around 44% of adults are buying less food, with rising costs being the primary reason for this change in shopping behaviour.

Specific Food Items Affected

The ONS detailed grocery data reveals significant price increases in everyday items since January 2021. For example, the cost of sugar, baked beans, canned tomatoes, and cooking sauces has surged by at least 50%. Similarly, prices for frozen foods, cheese, milk, and olive oil have seen substantial increases, with olive oil prices more than doubling in the past two years.

The broader economic context underscores the ongoing challenges faced by UK households, despite the recent easing in food inflation.

1 Comment

Jason Burgess
Jason Burgess
Nov 16, 2023

Is food expensive compared to 20 years ago as a percentage of house hold income?

Are consumers too used to spending money on non essential spend before prioritising spend on healthy eating.

if you buy fresh ingredient and cook from scratch the cost of food per head is cheaper than fast food and delivery!!

Fresh foods are not expensive and should not be coming down in price Food will be expensive if we allow the decline in agricultural production in the Uk due to financial returns being so poor.

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