Cost of living: tea bags, milk and sugar surge in price as food inflation soars to record 11.6% high

Research from Which? shows millions of people are already skipping meals due to money struggles

The cost of making a cup of tea has increased significantly as food prices continued to rise at record rates in October, new figures show.

Food inflation surged to a record 11.6% last month with staple items including tea bags, milk and sugar all shooting up in price.

Overall shop prices are now 6.6% higher than they were this time last year, but food inflation jumped well above September’s 10.6% and the three-month average rate of 9.7%, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Nielsen Shop Price Index.

Fresh food has been most vulnerable to surging costs, rising by an average of 13.3% over the last 12 months, up from 12.1% in September. Meanwhile, non-food inflation accelerated to 4.1%, up from 3.3% in September.

The hike in shop prices was partly due to higher costs for ingredients and energy, while worker shortages also pushed up prices.

The cost of making a cup of tea has increased significantly as food inflation soars to a record high in October (Photo: Adobe)

The war in Ukraine has also caused energy and food prices around the world to increase as the conflict has disrupted supplies from both Russia and Ukraine, which are major exporters of goods such as sunflower oil, wheat, and fertiliser.

Additionally, businesses are having to pay more to transport produce due to higher fuel costs. The BRC said the increases reflect a tight labour market and a jump in energy costs for retailers.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “It has been a difficult month for consumers who not only faced an increase in their energy bills, but also a more expensive shopping basket.

“Prices were pushed up because of the significant input cost pressures faced by retailers due to rising commodity and energy prices and a tight labour market. While some supply chain costs are beginning to fall, this is more than offset by the cost of energy, meaning a difficult time ahead for retailers and households alike.”

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, added: “External factors are keeping shop price inflation at record highs and the challenging economic conditions are significantly impacting consumer confidence and retail spend.

“With pressure growing on discretionary spend across both non-food and food retail, delivering good value is the table stake in the battle for shopper loyalty over the next eight weeks.”

‘People are already skipping meals’

Research from consumer watchdog Which? has shown that millions of consumers are already skipping meals or struggling to put healthy food on the table due to the rising cost of living.

Which? head of food policy Sue Davies said: “Soaring food prices are a real concern, and our research shows millions of consumers are already skipping meals or struggling to put healthy meals on the table due to the cost-of-living crisis. It is vital that households get the support they need from the government and businesses.

“Supermarkets have a crucial role to play in helping their customers navigate the tough months ahead. Budget lines for healthy and affordable essential items need to be widely available across their stores and they should ensure shoppers can easily compare the price of products to get the best value. Promotions should be targeted at supporting those most in need.”