Food inflation may be here for the near future as higher costs throughout supply chains become “baked in”, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said.

The trade association for retail businesses has today (Wednesday, March 22) responded to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation figures, which show headline inflation at 10.4% and food inflation at 18%.

Chief executive of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, said that while inflation is expected to subside later this year, prices are likely to remain elevated for some time.

“UK households continued to be squeezed by inflation driven by food prices and household bills,” she said.

“The energy crisis, caused by the war in Ukraine, has pushed up gas and electricity bills for producers, retailers and households.

“Food remained one of the strongest contributors to overall inflation as the high price of animal feed and fertiliser has driven up the price of many staples, while the weaker pound made importing products such as vegetables from Europe more expensive.”

Dickinson said retailers are committed to doing everything they can to keep the price of essentials low through expanding value ranges and offering discounts for vulnerable groups.

However, she said, the government must do more to “limit one of the biggest drags to retail investment, which is oncoming regulatory burdens heading down the track, or risk a crash in business investment and further inflationary pressures”.

Food inflation

Speaking on food inflation in the House of Commons today, Labour MP Kate Osborne referenced the latest CPI figures, saying that they are the “highest on record in 45 years”.

“Millions are living in food and fuel poverty because of this government’s failures and political decision to enable grotesque profiteering at the expense of our communities,” she said.

Osborne then asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak if he felt the government’s policies surrounding the issue were successful, if people are “struggling with their weekly food shop”.

Sunak responded by saying: “No one wants to see people struggling with week-to-week bills like food, which is why it is so imperative we stick to our economic plan and, as the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) has said, we are on track to halve inflation by the end of this year.

“That is the most important thing we can do to ease the burden on people.”