The price of a standard 500g bag of pasta has risen by 90% – from 50p to 95p – in the last two years, new research for the BBC has found.
The data, collected by the retail research firm Assosia, looked at the cost of a basket of 15 “everyday essentials” at Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. From 2021 to 2023, the price of the 15-item basket has risen by 34%.
Official figures suggest overall UK inflation may have peaked at 11.1% in October, but the rate of food price rises is still at 16.7%.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Which foods are getting more expensive?
The basket included items like potatoes, strawberry jam, pasta sauce and oven chips, and were chosen so that some popular items could be compared in value and standard ranges.
In the past two years the price of the 15 items from the supermarkets’ standard range of products has risen by 34%, from £15.79 to £21.13. Meanwhile, items from the stores’ value ranges rose by 15%, from £11.18 to £12.87.
Prices for certain individual items in the basket have increased much more dramatically than others, with strawberry jam up 57% and pasta almost doubling.
According to Which?, the quarterly inflation rate to the end of January 2023 for the following food items was: butters and spreads (29.2%), milk (26.9%), cheese (22.8%), bakery items (19.6%), water (18.4%), yoghurts (17.9%), cakes and cookies (16.7%), crisps (13.9%), fish (13.3%), meat (12.7%), vegetables (11%), fresh fruit (7.4%).
Which? also found branded products had a lower rate of inflation (12.6%) than own-brand standard (18.8%) or own-brand value items (20%).
The analysis included more than 25,000 food and drink products from Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
Figures from the retail analyst Kantar showed that grocery price inflation hit a record high of 16.7% in the four weeks to 22 January, “adding nearly £800 to the typical annual shopping bill, with the price of milk, eggs and dog food rising fastest”, reports The Guardian.
Why are prices still rising so fast?
“Food production is incredibly energy intensive. But with wholesale gas prices falling sharply along with a drop in the price of global food commodities, like wheat, why are food prices in our supermarket shelves still rising?” asks the BBC.
According to James Walton, chief economist at the IGD, a research charity in the food and consumer goods industry, the reason is the lag between food producers being hit with higher costs and the time that food will end up in stores.
“The food supply chain is extremely complicated. The products can change hands many times, before they come to us as the consumer. And so it takes a long time for the costs increases at the start of the supply chain to be passed down all of the steps until we actually encounter them in the store.”
Walton told the BBC he believed prices would continue to rise for the first half of this year, but that the rate of increase would fall quickly after that. Prices should fall at some point in the future, Walton says, due to the “incredibly competitive nature of grocery retailing in the UK”.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.