It’s crackers! Experts count the cost of Christmas lunch

Elizabeth Fournier
IF you’re heading to the supermarket today to pick up the ingredients for Christmas dinner, then along with your shopping trolley there’s one other basket you shouldn’t forget – the inflation basket.

Choosing between broccoli and carrots may not seem like a crucial decision, but with food inflation and supermarket price wars hitting the cost of groceries hard this winter, it could make all the difference at the till.

According to official figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday, the average price of some traditional Christmas foodstuffs has risen by as much as 50 per cent over the past year – and there’s particularly bad news for those who opt for a cheese course after pudding.

Though the average price of a hard cheese has only risen by 1.7 per cent, the cream crackers to go with it will set you back 50 per cent more than last year – up to 83p from 55p.

In frugal households, carrots and potatoes should be the vegetables of choice, having seen a drop of 20.5 per cent and 10.4 per cent respectively. But broccoli (+4.4 per cent), cauliflower (+6.3 per cent) and frozen peas (+4.6 per cent) may be off the menu along with the customary pigs in blankets, as the cost of both back bacon and pork sausages soars.

Cooks who rely on the traditional tipple to see them through a busy day’s work may also suffer, with the price of wine, champagne and sherry rising across the board.

And even more abstemious guests will have to count the cost of an after-dinner coffee, with grounds up a huge 20.9 per cent since Christmas 2010.

But it’s not all bad news. The price of turkey steaks has only increased by 3.8 per cent, so the centrepiece of the table should be able to stay intact.

And best of all the ONS makes no mention of the dreaded brussel sprout whatsoever – which means you should probably leave them on the shelf, just in case.