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Budget food prices rise by more than 50%

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Some of the lowest priced food staples have risen by more than 50% at a time when soaring inflation and the cost-of-living crisis are already squeezing affordability.

In the past year, budget vegetable oil has risen 65% while pasta has increased 60% and tea is up 46%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And in just the last six months alone (to September 2022), vegetable oil is up 46% (80p) for one litre taking the price to £2.58; chips are up 27p to £1.37 for 1.5kg, while milk is up 25p to £1.52 for four pints.

The ONS tracker monitoring the price of 30 basic grocery items found that half saw prices rise by 15% or more, but added “there is considerable variation” as four items saw price falls.

The largest price fall was on orange juice which came down 9% or 6p to 76p a litre, followed by beef mince which saw a 7% (5p) decrease to £1.95p for 500g in the year to September 2022. Sugar and rice were down 0.3% and 0.2% respectively.

Meanwhile, several items, including yoghurt and pizza had a “very stable” lowest price throughout the entire period.

Overall, there has been a 17% increase in the lowest prices of these 30 everyday items.

The ONS said the “experimental figures”, collected by scraping supermarket price data, show that the large rises in the cheapest available items are “broadly in line with the average food price rises reported within its regular headline inflation measures”.

However, it cautioned that the official measure of consumer price inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages contain many more than 30 items.

Shrinkflation: Budget food sizes fall

National statistician Ian Diamond, said: “While the recent spike in inflation began with energy prices, today’s fresh insights show they are now filtering through to other important items, with the cheapest price of some staple food items rising by around two thirds in the last year.”

Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at Interactive Investor, said: “Going to the shop for groceries is taking a bigger bite out of household budgets amid soaring prices. The headline CPI inflation figure dramatically underestimates the extent of real-world food inflation, with some everyday larder products like vegetable oil, pasta and tea rising by 65%, 60% and 46% in the year to September.

“And many items that have not risen in price are shrinking in size. Known as shrinkflation, it means we are paying the same price for a smaller product.

“Part of what’s fuelling the headline inflation figure are astronomical price gains in food. This type of inflation can be sticky because consumers are resigned to paying it as they form part of essential expenditure. Those on the breadline struggle most with rising food prices as they spend a greater proportions of their incomes on food and drink than those further up the income spectrum.”