UK inflation: Cheese and milk help push food prices up at fastest rate for 45 years

April 19, 2023  -BBC NEWS –Soaring prices for cheese, milk and bread meant the cost of living rose more than expected last month.

Inflation, which measures the rate of price rises, fell to 10.1% in the year to March from 10.4% in February.

It was widely expected to fall below 10%, but food prices continued to soar, rising at their fastest rate in 45 years.

Falling inflation doesn’t mean prices are falling, but just that the rate of price rises is slowing.

Grant Fitzner, chief economist for the Office for National Statistics, which provides the figures, said globally food prices were falling, but that had not yet led to price cuts.

“There’s been some strong upward movement in food prices and you would expect to see that reflected in supermarkets but we’re not there yet,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

When asked whether we might see double digit inflation sustained at least for another month with food prices continuing as they are, he said: “It is certainly within the realm of possibility but we don’t forecast this.”

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he was still confident that inflation would fall sharply by the end of the year.

He added: “We have a plan and if we’re going to reduce that pressure on families, it’s absolutely essential that we stick to that plan, and we see it through so that we halve inflation this year as the Prime Minister has promised.”

But Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said: “The reality is that under the Tories our economy is weaker, prices are out of control and never have people paid so much to get so little in return.”

Inflation in the UK remains higher than in other Western countries, including the US, Germany, France and Italy. On Wednesday, new figures showed eurozone inflation eased to 6.9% last month, from 8.5%.

Factors behind the UK’s high inflation include its exposure to rises in wholesale gas prices, its reliance on imports of certain foods, and worker shortages and wage rises.

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