UK food inflation fell marginally in April, figures released today (24 May) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show – but it is still rising for some staple food products including flour, sugar and potatoes.
The latest ONS Consumer Prices Index (CPI) data shows overall inflation in the UK fell to 8.7% in April – the first time it has been in single digits since last August. But food prices remain significantly inflated, despite a slight drop in the rate of inflation.
A drop in inflation does not mean cheaper prices, simply that prices are rising less quickly. In March, food inflation was at 19.6%, meaning prices were 19.6% higher than they were a year ago. In April, this fell to 19.3% – so consumers are still paying almost a fifth more than they were in April 2022. Our money editor Henry Sandercock has previously explained how the CPI is calculated.
For non-alcoholic drinks, inflation was at 16.5%, compared to 14.6% in March (although this had come down from 16% in February). The ONS figures show that for some types of food and non-alcoholic beverages, the rate of inflation is still climbing, with increases of up to 7.2 percentage points month on month.
The worst affected type of items were in a category called ‘other milk products’, where inflation rose from 16.2% to 23.4%. This includes milk alternatives such as soya, as well as cream and milk-based products like milkshakes and desserts – although the data does not show which items specifically drove the increase for the category.
The chart below shows how the inflation rate continued to change for a selection of staple food products. Can't see the chart? You can open it in a new window here.
There was also a hefty rise in inflation for fruit and vegetable juices, from 14.1% in March to 21.1% in April.
The 10 products with the biggest rises in the inflation rate between March and April were:
- Other milk products – up 7.2 percentage points from 16.2% to 23.4%
- Fruit and vegetable juices – up 7 percentage points, from 14.1% to 21.1%
- Flours and other cereals – up 6.6 percentage points, from 23.4% to 30%
- Sugar – up 5.3 percentage points, from 42.1% to 47.4%
- Eggs – up five percentage points from 32% to 37%
- Potatoes – up 4.4 percentage points, from 20.4% to 24.8%
- Pasta products and couscous – up 3.6 percentage points, from 24.1% to 27.7%
- Margarine and other vegetable fats – up 3.4 percentage points, from 15.6% to 19%
- Other tubers and products of tuber vegetables – up 3.2 percentage points, from 2% to 5.2%
- Mineral or spring waters – up 3.1 percentage points, from 18.3% to 21.4%
- Yoghurt – up 2.1 percentage points, from 21.9% to 24%
- Pork – up two percentage points, from 25.2% to 27.2%
- Rice – up 1.9 percentage points, from 13% to 14.9%
- Fresh or chilled vegetables (excluding potatoes and other tubers) – up 1.7 percentage points, from 20.5% to 22.2%
- Dried fruit and nuts – up 1.4 percentage points, from 5.8% to 7.2%
Some products however did see significant drops in inflation in the latest month. The biggest drop was for milk, with inflation down 11.6 percentage points, from 37.9% to 26.3%. There was also a drop for cheese and curd, butter, and olive oil – although inflation still remains extremely high for all these products, with shoppers paying far more than they would have done a year ago.
The 15 products with the biggest drop in inflation were:
- Whole milk – down 11.6 percentage points, from 37.9% to 26.3%
- Edible ices and ice cream – down 6.5 percentage points, from 24.3% to 17.8%
- Pizza and quiche – down 5.3 percentage points, from 17.2% to 11.9%
- Low fat milk – down 5.3 percentage points, from 38.8% to 33.5%
- Cocoa and powdered chocolate – down 4.5 percentage points, from 24.5% to 20%
- Crisps – down 3.4 percentage points, from 17.9% to 14.5%
- Meat preparations (eg pies, tinned meat, pates) – down 3.3 percentage points, from 23.6% to 20.3%
- Non-frozen preserved or processed fish and seafood products (eg tinned tuna) – down 3.3 percentage points, from 18.2% to 14.9%
- Frozen seafood – down 3.1 percentage points, from 11.2% to 8.1%
- Jams, marmalades and honey – down three percentage points, from 20.9% to 17.9%
- Cheese and curd – down three percentage points, from 33.6% to 30.6%
- Olive oil – down 2.8 percentage points, from 49.2% to 46.4%
- Butter – down 2.6 percentage points, from 22.7% to 20.1%
- Poultry – down 1.4 percentage points, from 18% to 16.6%
- Bakery products excluding bread (eg biscuits, crumpets, cakes) – down 1.3 percentage points, from 25.3% to 24%
What did the ONS say about inflation?
The ONS said food and non-alcoholic beverage prices continued to contribute heavily to high annual inflation in April – the annual inflation rate was the second highest seen for over 45 years, according to their estimates for the period before current records began in 1989.
It said that price rises in potatoes, tubers, and other vegetables had had the biggest impact on keeping inflation high between March and April.
ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said: “The rate of inflation fell notably as the large energy price rises seen last year were not repeated this April, but was offset partially by increases in the cost of second-hand cars and cigarettes. However, prices in general remain substantially higher than they were this time last year, with annual food price inflation near historic highs.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that while it is “positive” to see inflation ease to single digits, “food prices are still rising too fast”. You can read more on the Chancellor's reaction, and plans to help families, in our latest article.