Rishi Sunak has admitted inflation continues to be “too high” after new figures showed the cost of living is still running at eye-watering levels, thanks in part to food prices.
New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed consumer prices index (CPI) inflation is running at 8.7% in April, down from 10.1% in March, but still very high for many households.
But that doesn’t tell the full story, with the ONS reporting that food price inflation remains close to levels not seen for nearly 50 years, at 19.3%.
For those struggling to wrap their heads around the figures, the ‘shopping basket’ pictured at the top of this article showing everyday food items would have cost £14.18 in February 2022. Twelve months on, that same basket cost £16.60.
In total, seven of the items had gone up by more than the CPI rate of inflation at the time – 10.5%.
The most inflated item was Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup which was 79% more expensive than a year ago in the same shop.
February 2022 – February 2023 increase at popular supermarket
Warburtons Medium Sliced White Bread 800g: £1.10 to £1.40 (27%)
Jacobs Cream Crackers 300g: £1.19 to £1.50 (26%)
Tesco Cherry Tomatoes 330g: 90p to £1.00 (11%)
Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup 400g: 95p to £1.70 (79%)
Weetabix Cereal 24 Pack: £3.00 to £3.25 (8%)
Hula Hoops Original 6x24g: £1.75 to £2.25 (28%)
Pringles Sour Cream & Onion Crisps 200g/£2.00 165g / £1.85 (12%)
Mars Bar 51g: 60p to 65p (8%)
Mcvittie’s Digestive Biscuits 400g: £1.29 to £1.60 (24%)
The ONS report shows that consumers face budget-breaking price rises on kitchen cupboard essentials such as olive oil, up 49% on a year ago, cheese, now 42% more expensive, and milk and backed beans, both up 39%.
The figures come a day after Kantar reported that grocery price inflation has fallen for the second month in a row but remains at an “incredibly high” 17.2%, continuing to add an extra £833 to the average consumer’s bill.
In the dairy aisle, the average cost of four pints of milk has come down by 8p since last month, but is still 30p higher than this time last year at £1.60.
On Tuesday, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the government “stands ready” to update pricing rules after he spoke to representatives from the industry to raise concerns over the sky-rocketing cost of groceries.
Last week Tesco and Aldi announced another round of price cuts on own-brand pasta and cooking oil as deflation started to make its way through to cupboard essentials.
It followed a number of supermarkets dropping the price of some lines of bread and butter the week before in response to falling commodity prices.
Sainsbury’s and Tesco also recently cut the price of milk by at least 5p, followed by Aldi, Lidl and Asda.
The Resolution Foundation warned last week that food prices are set to overtake energy bills as the “epicentre” of the cost-of-living crisis, and would force low-income households to eat less as own-brand essentials are becoming unaffordable for some.