Increasing cost of sugar drives shop prices to record in March
SHOP price inflation reached a new high in March amid warnings that soaring food costs are yet to peak.
Shop prices are now 8.9 per cent higher than they were a year ago, up from February's 8.4 per cent increase, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-NielsenIQ index.
Overall food inflation accelerated to 15 per cent, up from 14.5 per cent last month, while the price of fresh food is now 17 per cent higher than last March - the highest rate on record.
The increasing cost of sugar coupled with high manufacturing costs contributed to price rises for chocolate, sweets and fizzy drinks, while fruit and vegetable prices also rose as poor harvests in Europe and North Africa limited availability.
Inflation on items other than food also reached a new record of 5.9 per cent, up from 5.3 per cent in February.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "Shop price inflation has yet to peak.
"Food price rises will likely ease in the coming months, particularly as we enter the UK growing season, but wider inflation is expected to remain high."
Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said: "Inflation continues to have an impact on the spending power of shoppers and increased energy bills from April will add more pressure.
"Since food prices have risen retailers have seen more visits but less basket spend, as shoppers manage their weekly food bills by shopping little and more often and seeking out the lowest prices."
Last week the ONS reported UK inflation shot up unexpectedly in February pushing food prices to their highest rate in more than 45 years.