UK food inflation doubles in a month – but not across the board

08 March 2017

British food inflation has doubled since last month, with the price of staples including butter, tea, lamb and fish all rising, industry data showed today (Tuesday March 6).

Market researcher Kantar Worldpanel said grocery inflation was 1.4% for the 12 weeks to Feb. 26, up from 0.7 %in the 12 weeks to January 29.

Food prices have been rising in Britain since the 12 weeks to Jan 1, bringing to an end a more than two-year period when prices fell, Kantar said.

Separately on Tuesday, two other surveys showed British consumers cutting back on non-essential spending as the impact of the depreciation of sterling on import costs following last year's decision to leave the European Union pushes up the cost of their day-to-day shopping.

"Staples such as butter, tea and fish all saw prices rise by more than 5% during the past 12 weeks, as fruit and vegetables – many of which are imported – also saw an uptick in price," said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar.

However, he pointed out that inflation is still far from universal, with prices falling across a number of categories including crisps, bacon and eggs.

"While consumers may be starting to feel a very slight pinch, increased inflation has led to overall market growth," said McKevitt.

Overall grocery sales in the 12 weeks to February 26 period rose 2.3% - the fastest rate since June 2014.

Sales at the UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, were up 0.6%, a sixth period in a row of increased sales. Elsewhere, sales at all the big supermarkets, bar Asda, rose slightly, putting pressure on the independent sector.

Discounter Lidl was Britain’s fastest growing supermarket during the 12 weeks with sales up by 13%, while rival Aldi grew sales by 12.9% to reach a record market share of 6.3% - making it the country’s fifth biggest food and drink retailer.