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Consumer Price Inflation data finds veg prices rose in April

Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released their monthly consumer price inflation data, finding that food prices overall fell very slightly between March and April this year – a smaller drop compared to the change between the same two months a year ago.

A closer look at different food categories reveals a more nuanced picture. The largest upward contribution came from vegetables which the ONS suggests could be a consequence of switching from imported veg to more homegrown produce. Our analysis (excluding potatoes and pulses, in line with the Eatwell Guide) shows an average percentage price change increase for vegetables of 6.25% compared to March.  Fruit, however, saw only a very minor increase compared to March, with an average percentage change increase of 0.52%.

Concerns have been raised about fruit and vegetable supply as the UK enters the summer harvest season, where an anticipated shortfall of seasonal migrant workers may cause supply shortages. The government launched their ‘Pick for Britain’ website just yesterday in an attempt to encourage furloughed workers to support the UK’s edible horticulture sector.

Our analysis also showed  price rises for food items with a longer shelf life, such as frozen chips, biscuits, breakfast cereals and cooking sauces, perhaps reflecting the increased demand for ambient goods and changes to shopping habits seen in the run-up to and during lockdown.

Overall, the UK’s inflation rate fell in April to its lowest rate since August 2016 as the economic impact of the first month of lockdown hit prices. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell from 1.5% to 0.8% in March, according to the ONS. The government target is 2%.

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