Grocery inflation has hit its highest level in 13 years – with almost a quarter of shoppers struggling to make ends meet, according to closely-watched industry data.
Kantar Worldpanel said its measure of inflation in supermarkets had risen to 7% from 5.9% just a month ago.
Prices were rising fastest in markets such as dog food, savoury snacks and fresh beef, the research revealed.
It reflected the surging costs from things such as energy, fertiliser, fuel and animal feeds being passed down the supply chain in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Prices had already been rising in advance of the war in February as worker shortages coupled with high demand to force up shipping costs, hampering the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It would also seem that the food inflation problem has far from peaked.
The boss of Arla Foods – the UK’s largest dairy firm – told Sky News just last week that production costs were continuing to rocket at levels never seen before, placing further pressure on prices for the foreseeable future.
A string of other companies in the grocery space have warned that their prices will have to go up further – most recently Mr Kipling’s owner, Premier Foods.
Kantar’s latest report, covering the grocery market over the 12 weeks to 15 May, showed that supermarket sales were down by 4.4% on the same period last year.
It stated that the weaker comparison likely reflected coronavirus restrictions in place at that time and growing consumer caution.
The spring months during 2022 have been dominated by an unprecedented leap in the cost of household energy, as the price cap was raised by an average £693 a year on 1 April.
Record energy and fuel prices have since been reflected in more everyday items, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirming last week that the main consumer prices index measure of inflation had hit a 40-year high of 9% last month.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “People are really feeling the squeeze at the supermarket tills and they’re having to stretch their budgets further to accommodate rising prices.
“To put the most recent numbers into context, if you were picking up supplies for a family fry-up over the long weekend with toast, eggs, sausages, bacon, and beans it would cost you £6.83 – that’s a significant 40p increase on last year.”
He added: “In our recent Kantar Pressure Groups survey, 43% of households described themselves as ‘managing’ while 22% said they were ‘struggling’.
“Within the growing group of shoppers struggling to make ends meet, the rising price of groceries is of concern to over nine in 10 people, making it the second most important issue behind the spiralling cost of energy bills.”
The government is under mounting pressure to relax the purse strings and provide aid to homes and businesses.
Boris Johnson said on Monday that they would “just have to wait a little bit longer” for news of the latest support package.
He has not ruled out a one-off tax on the profits of energy companies to help subsidise the bills being faced by consumers.
Labour has accused the government of dithering and says its windfall tax plans would see each household in need get £600 off their energy bill.