By David Milliken
LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Fresh food prices at British supermarkets in early December were 15.0% higher than a year earlier, the biggest annual increase since at least 2005 when records started, figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed on Wednesday.
British households were hit hard by a soaring cost of living in 2022, and the Bank of England has forecast that inflation will remain high over the coming months due to the ongoing impact of high energy bills before falling later in 2023.
The BRC said the overall annual rate of shop price inflation reported by its members – mostly large retail chains and supermarkets – dropped to 7.3% from 7.4%. This was driven by a drop in inflation for non-food items to 4.4% from 4.8%.
Overall food price inflation rose to a record 13.3% from 12.4%, reflecting increases in the rate of inflation to 15.0% for fresh food and 11.0% for less perishable items.
“Reverberations from the war in Ukraine continued to keep high the cost of animal feed, fertiliser and energy,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
The BRC price data was collected between Dec. 1 and Dec. 7.
Britain’s official rate of consumer price inflation – which covers a wider range of goods, services and businesses than the BRC survey – hit a 41-year high of 11.1% in October, before dropping to 10.7% in November.
However, food and drink price inflation as measured by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) continued to increase in November, hitting its highest since September 1977 at 16.4% on the official measure.
Many British households are struggling. Last month, the ONS said 6% of households had run out of food because they could not afford to buy more. Almost a quarter of households were unable to afford to consistently keep their main living room at a comfortable temperature.
Separate research from the British government’s Food Standards Agency in September found that 30% of households had reduced portion sizes or skipped meals to save money.