UK food inflation hits ‘record’: Survey

UK food-price inflation has soared to a record peak as Britons suffer from a cost-of-living crisis, a survey showed Tuesday.

Prices accelerated 17.1 per cent in the four weeks to February 19 compared with a year earlier, data provider Kantar said after tracking the cost of more than 75,000 products. That was the highest increase recorded by Kantar, which began its survey in 2008.

“Shoppers have been facing sustained price rises for some time now… This is having a big impact on people’s lives,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at the group. Its research also indicated that grocery-price inflation was the second biggest financial issue for Britons after rocketing energy costs. Kantar found that one-quarter of households were “struggling financially” in January, when it surveyed almost 10,000 consumers. That compared with one-fifth a year ago.

“These latest figures are deeply concerning,” said Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at the consumer pressure group Which? “Some households are already skipping meals to make ends meet,” she added.

Shares in Ocado closed down 12.2 per cent Tuesday after the British online supermarket group said higher prices hit sales, resulting in a doubling of net losses last year. The group was affected also by its own higher costs.

Elsewhere, British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s said it planned to axe more than 1,400 warehouse jobs over the next three years. The depots hold non-food items, including household electrical equipment, sold by its Argos brand. “This… allows us to reduce costs,” said Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts.

It comes as inflation overall is easing as the cost of energy slides. Global inflation last year reached the highest levels in decades as the invasion of Ukraine by Russia sent energy and food prices higher. The UK Consumer Prices Index (CPI) peaked at an annual rate of 11.1 per cent in October before falling to 10.1 per cent last month.

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