The prices for chocolate, sweets, and fizzy drinks have risen ahead of the Easter holidays due to the record rate of rising food costs. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said higher sugar and manufacturing costs had helped push food price inflation to 15% in the year to March, up from 14.5% in February.
It comes as fruit and vegetable prices also climbed due to availability issues. However, the trade group said it expected food prices to ease soon. BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson told the BBC food prices will likely “ease in the coming months” as the UK enters the growing season, but warned wider inflation is expected to remain high.
She said: “Retailers continue to work hard to keep prices, particularly of essentials, as low as possible by expanding value ranges and offering discounts for vulnerable groups.” The cost of producing food has increased over the past year due to rising energy prices and harvesting problems brought on by extreme weather.
The BRC said fruit and vegetables prices had risen this month after bad weather in Spain and North Africa caused availability issues. It also said imports had also become more expensive due to the weakening pound.
Meanwhile, overall shop price inflation, including non-food items accelerated to 8.9% in the year to March, up from 8.4% last month, said the BRC. However, some retailers had been offering discounts on home entertainment goods and electrical appliances, and likely to offer promotions over Easter.
According to the BBC, official figures showed there was a surprise jump in figures last month, as salad and vegetable shortages helped push up food prices at the fastest rate in 45 years. Alcohol prices in restaurants and pubs have also increased as inflation rose from 10.1% in January to 10.4% in February.
The Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts that this year’s inflation rate will fall below 3% as food and energy prices decrease.