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Saturday, May 21, 2022

The cost of living crisis and food prices

There has been a lot of publicity of the impact of the cost of living crisis on energy and fuel costs but, as the Guardian reports, there is also an impact on basic food costs.

The paper says that a Which? analysis has found that cereal, mushrooms and cheese among the items to have risen the most in cost, with some grocery prices rising by as much as twenty per cent:

Which? said the items that had recorded the biggest price rises included a 500g box of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut corn flakes cereal, which had gone up by 21.4% at Tesco, Asda’s own-label closed cup mushrooms (250g) which were up by the same percentage and Cathedral City extra mature cheddar (350g) which rose by 21.1% at Ocado.

The consumer group said it had examples of shrinkflation – where products were smaller but selling for the same price – and that between December 2021 and February this year the availability of some value ranges had been more limited than previously.

These ranges recorded the lowest inflation overall, with prices increasing by just 0.2%, while standard ranges rose by 2.8% and own-label premium ranges were up by 3.2%.

Across the 20 categories of groceries Which? looked at, fizzy drinks had the biggest average price rises, at 5.9%, followed by butters and spreads, at 4.9%.

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics reported food and drink prices were up by an average of 6% year on year, but some everyday products, including milk and pasta, had increased by more than 10%. Its figures, which cover the year to April, suggest many of the items Which? reviewed will be even more expensive now.

Sue Davies, the Which? head of food policy and consumer rights, said “eye-watering” price rises were being exacerbated by other factors to put “huge pressure” on household shopping budgets.

“During an unrelenting cost of living crisis, consumers should be able to easily choose the best value product for them without worrying about shrinkflation or whether their local store stocks budget ranges.”

The causes of these price rises are many, but Brexit may well be one of them, and it is almost certain that if the UK Government provoke a trade war of the Norther Ireland protocol, then things will get worse.
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