Figures provided by retail analyst Kantar found that grocery price inflation in the country reached a new record high of 16.7% in the four weeks that ended on January 22. This amounts to a nearly £800 pound increase on a typical yearly shopping bill. This is a notable increase from the 14.4% recorded in December and the highest level since figures were first tracked in 2008.
Some categories of food that have noted particularly sharp rises recently include eggs, milk and dog food. However, fruit, vegetables, sugar and alcohol have also noticed steep rises in the past month. According to Kantar, the price of basics such as cheese, milk, butter and bread is up 16.7% in a year over year basis. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that olive oil has risen by nearly 40% in the last year, while low-fat milk is up 46% and sugar is up 38.5%.
In response to record-setting inflation, some supermarkets are expanding their store label ranges to provide customers with more value. In January, sales of store label products climbed by 9.3%; sales of branded alternatives only rose by 1%.
Four out of every 10 British families with children under the age of 12 have been replacing meat in their diet with carbohydrates such as pasta and bread to bulk out their meals and get more out of their money. 18% of Brits are buying fewer vegetables and fruits, and almost a third are purchasing less meat, according to Red Tractor.
Another way some people are making ends meet is by eating food that is well past its use-by date. According to the ONS, almost one in five adults say they have eaten food that was beyond its use-by date, which indicates when perishable food can safely be consumed. This is despite the Food Standards Agency warning that individuals should never eat food after this date – even if it smells or looks acceptable – because it could result in serious illness.
The ONS also found that 15% of adults are somewhat or very worried that they will run out of food before they can afford to purchase more. It also revealed that Brits are struggling to stay warm amid the higher costs of energy, with nearly a quarter of those polled saying that they struggled to stay comfortably warm during the previous two weeks.
Discount grocery chains like ALDI and Lidl have noted rising sales. For the fourth month in a row, ALDI was the country's fastest-growing grocer, noting sales that were 26.9% higher year on year and taking a 9.2% share of the market. Sales at Lidl climbed by 24.1%; they took a market share of 7.1%. Meanwhile, the sales at bigger rivals like Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco only saw increases of 6%; sales at Morrisons dropped by 1.9%.
It's bad news for Brits who are already struggling with inflation across the board. The Bank of England recently raised interest rates for the 10th time in a row, which is pushing monthly mortgage payments higher; its 0.5 percent rise places rates at 4%, which is the highest level seen since the financial crisis of 2008. A further rise to 4.25% is widely expected next month.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has forecasted that the British economy will shrink this year and experience the poorest performance out of all developed countries, including Russia. The news isn't much better in the U.S., where the prices of many foods have risen exponentially as well.
Sources for this article include: