Recent figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have shown that food inflation is at its highest level on record, with the trade association for retail businesses saying prices are set to remain high.

BRC data shows food inflation accelerated to 14.5% in February 2023, up from 13.8% in January, making it above the three-month average rate and the highest inflation rate in the food category on record.

Fresh food inflation also hit record highs in February at 16.3%, up 15.7% from January making it the highest inflation rate in the category on record.

Chief executive of the BRC Helen Dickinson said that while the annual inflation rate is expected to reduce in the second half of the year, retail prices will “remain high in the coming months”.

“Government must avoid any additional costs on business as this will jeopardise retailers’ ability to best support their customers and keep prices low throughout this cost-of-living crisis,” she said.

Dickinson said numerous factors, including the war in Ukraine, higher running costs and soaring energy bills, have contributed to inflation across the board in retail.

“For non-food products, these factors particularly impacted gardening tools and pet food,” she said.

“Meanwhile, fresh food prices, especially vegetables, were also affected by a weaker pound, making produce imports from Europe more expensive.”

Vegetable shortages

This week, Lidl joined Asda and Morrisons in the limiting of the sales of certain vegetables amid shortages.

The BRC said these shortages are because “difficult weather conditions in the South of Europe and Northern Africa have disrupted harvest”.

A spokesperson for Lidl GB said the retailer introduced limits because demand for the products increased in Lidl as the products were not available elsewhere.

The spokesperson said: “As advised to our customers through signage in our stores last week, adverse weather conditions in Spain and Morocco have recently impacted the availability of certain salad items across the supermarket sector.

“Whilst we still have good availability across the majority of our stores, due to a recent increase in demand we have taken the decision to temporarily limit the purchase of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to three items per person.

“This will help to ensure that all of our customers have access to the products they need.”