Food price inflation highest in almost six years, says retail group

cabbages

UK food prices last month reached their highest rate of inflation in almost six years, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Extreme weather last year – both cold and hot – hit the planting of crops, pushing up the price of such things as onions, potatoes and cabbages.

But the BRC also said the global cereal prices increased the cost of bread.

It meant food price inflation hit 2.5% in March, up from 1.6% in February, the highest since November 2013.

Overall, shop price inflation rose to 0.9% in March from 0.7% in February, the highest inflation rate since March 2013, according the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index.

Last year’s weather saw farmers contending with delays to planting caused by February’s Beast from the East, followed by rain, leading to flooding in some areas in April, and then an extended summer heatwave, affecting crop yields.

‘Chaotic no-deal Brexit’

Rises in the cost of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks also pushed up the inflation figure.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson warned there would be no let-up in food price rises if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal.

“The bigger threat to food inflation remains the risks of a chaotic no-deal Brexit, which would lead to higher prices and less choice on the shelves,” she said.

“In order to avoid this scenario, parliamentarians from all parties must find a compromise that can command a majority in the House of Commons.”

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said the figures underline the pressures facing food retailers, which have seen slower sales since the start of the year.

But he suggested there was some relief for consumers buying non-food items.

“For many high street fashion, home and outdoor retailers prices are not increasing, so good news for shoppers as the end of season ranges sell through,” Mr Watkins said.

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