New figures showed recently that retail sales volumes have plummeted to 1.3 per cent lower than pre-coronavirus levels, as rising prices and the cost of living continues to bite.
The ONS data said at the end of October that in particular food store sales were down, by 1.8 per cent last month, which is 3.2 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
The main reason is that the cost of food and drink has increased at its sharpest rate since 1980, with surges in the prices of many key items in the average household’s shopping basket.
Ukraine, fertiliser costs and animal feed
The rise in the cost of groceries has been accelerated by the war in Ukraine, which has pushed up the cost of fertiliser and animal feed due to the impact on grain supply from the region.
Global meat prices have jumped as a result, while the knock-on effect to oil production in the regions has also hit the price of sunflower oil and other fats.
Food and drink prices have also been affected by the recent weakness in the pound, which has caused more expensive imported products and ingredients.
“Food and drink manufacturers continue to do everything they can to keep product prices down, but huge rises in ingredient, raw material, energy and other costs mean they have no choice but to pass some price rises on,” Karen Betts, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, shared with City A.M.
Curious about the specifics, here is how the cost of food has risen in the past year. The figures are based on the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation and have been published by the Office for National Statistics.
In each case, the figure is the percentage change in the average price over the 12 months to September 2022.
Low-fat milk 42.1 per cent
Margarine and other vegetable fats 30.5 per cent
Whole milk 30.2 per cent
Jams, marmalades and honey 28.1 per cent
Butter 28.0 per cent
Olive oil 27.2 per cent
Cheese and curd 23.1 per cent
Pasta and couscous 22.7 per cent
Eggs 22.3 per cent
Sauces, condiments, salt, spices and culinary herbs 22.1 per cent
Frozen vegetables other than potatoes 20.3 per cent
Potatoes 19.9 per cent
Ready-made meals 19.0 per cent
Poultry 17.2 per cent
Meat 15.3 per cent
Bread 14.6 per cent
Fish 13.5 per cent
Yoghurt 12.8 per cent
Crisps 11.8 per cent
Edible ices and ice cream 11.5 per cent
Fresh or chilled vegetables other than potatoes 11.1 per cent
Pizza and quiche 9.7 per cent
Fruit 8.8 per cent
Rice 6.8 per cent
Breakfast cereals and other cereal products 6.8 per cent
Confectionery products 6.1 per cent
Sugar 4.7 per cent
Dried fruit and nuts 4.6 per cent
Chocolate 3.3 per cent
Given the sharp price rises, a morning coffee could become a luxury item rather than an everyday essential, an Edinburgh roaster told this paper, as inflation returns to a four-decade high.
A flat white could soon set you back more than £4 with the soaring price of milk, which has seen it reach the highest ever recorded, forcing businesses to bump up prices.
Robi Lambie, coffee roaster and co-founder of Cairngorm Coffee in the Scottish capital, said he was “very concerned” about the impact of inflation on the business.
“One worry we have is that rising costs could push the price of coffee into a bracket where customers decide it’s more of a luxury lifestyle decision, rather than everyday morning essential,” he said.
“With everything considered, we predict the price of a flat white coffee will be at least £4 by the end of the year.”Robi Lambie
“It sounds ludicrous, but it’s the position we’re likely to find ourselves in.”
The warning came as the ONS said on Wednesday that Consumer Prices Index inflation reached 10.1 per cent in September, compared with 9.9 per cent in August.
It was above the expectations of economists, who had predicted the slightly lower figure of 10 per cent.