September 6, 2008

Chicken and Rice Prices Rocket By Over 40%

The price of food on our supermarket shelves has rocketed by 8.3% since the beginning of the year.

Over the last eight months, the prices of everyday items such as meat and fish have gone up by 22.9%.

The price of fresh fruit and vegetables also surged by 14.7% since January.

Retail analysts Verdict Research worked out the increases by dividing household supermarket purchases into 13 categories.

Seven individual items were found to be up in price by more than 40%, including chicken breasts, basmati rice and a pack of four croissants.

Help the Aged in Wales said the figures offered a depressing scenario for older people, in particular.

Spokesman Iwan Rhys Roberts said: "This research does paint a particularly bleak picture for older people.

"We know that in recent winters they have been faced with the choice of heating or eating.

"That harshdilemma has come earlier this year with the bad weather, compounded by inflated energy and food costs.

"We know that in Wales, one in five older people are living in poverty-that's 138,000 people who are really struggling to make ends meet.

"It's a matter of great concern to Help the Aged in Wales and is a situation we fear will get worse with the onset of the winter months."

The survey comes after high-street data from the British Retail Consortium, released on Wednesday, showed the rocketing rate of food inflation slowed markedly last month.

The BRC said food in flation postedits lowest monthly rise for five months to hit 10%in August.

The month-on-month rise was 0.3%, down from1.9%in July and the lowest since March's no-change reading.

But the high cost of food is far exceeding the official rateof inflation, with the Consumer Prices Index, which includes shop goods, energy and fuel costs, currently at 4.4%.

Laundry, washing and toilet paper was up 14.4%, drink was up 6.8%, pet foodup 6.5%, cereal and baked goods up 6% and frozen food up 5.8%.

But ready meals were down since January by 0.4% and dairy goods were also down by 1.8%.

The BRC said food inflation has more than quadrupled over the past year thanks to soaring packaging, cooking oil and fat costs, and has been the main driver of overall upward price pressure on the high street.

On Thursday the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee kept interest rates on hold at 5% for the fifth month in a row, despite the looming threat of recession.

A rate cut is not expected until November at the earliest.

Neil Saunders, consulting director at Verdict Research, said the era of falling food prices had gone.

"Food is one of the biggest components of household expenditure, and with increases like these it's not surprising that consumers are feeling squeezed," he said.

"The good news is that food prices won't keep on going up by as much as this.

"The bad news is that they are likely to remain stable rather than come down.

"Consumers have become used to food prices falling year after year.

"That era has gone and shoppers are having to adjust to higher prices."

National Consumer Council policy expert, Lucy Yates, said: "Like everybody else we have been concerned with the recent price hikes in food shopping bills.

"We would urge consumers to shop around, think about how they can keep food wastage to a minimum and use supermarket comparison websites to ensure they get the best deals possible."

Grocery price rises

The survey found that the following items on our supermarket shelves have gone up since January this year:

Meat and fish: +22.9%

Store cupboard/general: +15%

Fresh fruit/vegetables: +14.7%

Laundry/washing/paper: +14.4%

Drink: +6.8%

Pet food: +6.5%

Bakery/cereal: +6%

Frozen food: +5.8%

Health & beauty: +0.4%

Ready meals: -0.4%

Dairy: -1.8%

Baby food: -2.5%

Pack of four croissants: +47.4%

Bolognese sauce: +46.2%

Ham (125g pack): +45.4%

Chicken breasts (skinless): +42.6%

Basmati rice (500g): +42.1%

Mediumwhole chicken: +41.9%

Mayonnaise (400g): +40.6%

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