Britain’s food prices are at the highest rate of inflation they’ve been in over six years. According to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade organisation for UK retailers, prices were hit hardest by last year’s drastic weather extremes and a severe shortage of commodities.
Weather Hit Supply
Following the hot summer supply has diminished further than ever. With farmers planting smaller amounts of crops because of the weather – both hot and cold – prices have been driven up by higher demand but smaller supply, sending inflation upwards too.
The BRC have also suggested that global prices for common ingredients like cereals and wheats have increased the price of everyday items, especially bread.
Official statistics released in early April showed that food price inflation rose to 2.5% in March – up from the 1.6% reported in February – and general shop pricing inflation has risen by approximately 0.2% between February and March.
This is not an insignificant figure and the BRC have warned that there could be disastrous consequences if these figures continue to rise as we head into the summer months.
Brexit Blamed Again
The Chief Executive of BRC also placed a damning proposition to Parliament, suggesting that food prices would only continue to rise at this staggering pace if Britain crashed out of the European Union with no deal.
She warned that ‘the biggest threat to food inflation remains […] a no-deal Brexit’ and made a plea for Parliament to work together and create a majority compromise, regardless of political ideology, to ensure that Britons would not suffer from massive food shortages in the coming months.
Other commentators have suggested, however, that these figures only emphasise the struggles of UK retailers, who have seen a slower start to sales since the beginning of the year. Some suggested that the average British customers were buying less food-based products and choosing instead to spend their money on the high street.
Some of Britain’s biggest food retailers – including Marks and Spencer and Sainsburys – started 2019 with disappointing figures from the Christmas season and have been struggling to find their feet in the months since.