Charcuterie in and champagne out in goods basket shake-up

Ben Southwood
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Ebooks move into inflation basket as changing technology shifts spending

ON-SALE champagne has left the official representative basket of goods whose prices officials check to measure inflation, just as charcuterie meats were pulled in.

Spreadable butter, ebooks and ereaders were also added into the basket for 2013, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday.

Blueberries came in to beef up “the coverage of berries in the basket”, the ONS said, while official price checkers will now measure the prices of pre-packed stir-fry vegetables to similarly improve prepared fresh vegetable coverage.

On the way out, as well as on-sale champagne (full-price champagne remains), were freeview boxes, round lettuce (iceberg lettuce is still in the basket), and computer games bundled with accessories – which ONS researchers say aren’t prevalent enough to measure any longer.

Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight said it would be unlikely it would make a difference to the consumer price index (CPI) numbers – upon which the Bank of England’s inflation target is based.

“It would be very unusual for a change in composition to affect the rate,” Archer said. “I would be very surprised if it did.”

The CPI tracks the prices of everything from dehydrated noodles to ceramic tiles to NHS dental charges to golf green fees.