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Fizzy drinks ousted by mineral water in ONS inflation gauge

Canned fizzy drinks are out and small bottles of mineral water are in, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in its latest annual rejig of the “shopping basket” of goods it uses to calculate inflation.

The ONS has also ditched pitta bread in favour of garlic bread and included cereal bars in the basket for the first time, reflecting the increased popularity of the snack.

Statisticians base their monthly calculation of consumer price inflation on a basket of 650 items in 12 sectors, including food, clothing, housing and household services, furniture, transport, recreation and culture, and restaurants and hotels. The basket is updated annually to reflect changing tastes and new products.

The ONS also said it was introducing Blu-ray DVD players and computer games with accessories to the basket.

Hair straighteners are replacing hair dryers and lip gloss is taking the place of lip stick in the basket, reflecting the fashion for a more natural look. Powdered baby formula milk is replacing baby foods.

The ONS also said it is changing the way it measures mortgage interest payments in its retail price index. It will now use the average effective rate of mortgage interest, which it says better reflects the many different types of mortgages – including fixed rate, discount and tracker mortgages – that were not covered in the standard variable rate measures of interest it previously used.

All the changes will be introduced in the February consumer price inflation data to be published on 23 March.