Supermarket offers and easing world prices for commodities such as wheat and sugar bringing down food cost
There was some good(ish) news for hard-pressed consumers on Tuesday as figures pointed to a slowdown in the march of food prices. Higher food and fuel prices are making us all feel poorer, and the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) monthly report recorded food inflation slowing sharply from the 5.4% recorded in March to 4.3% in April.
A year ago, rocketing animal feed and ingredient costs were fuelling inflation, but easing world prices for commodities such as wheat and sugar are trickling down to the checkouts. An escalation of hostilities between the supermarkets, battling for custom in a turgid market, is also helping. Both food and clothing retailers “continue to discount hard”, says the BRC, pointing to supermarkets where a third of products are on promotion.
The figures offer consumers at the very least “some reasons to be cheerful” but the BRC’s not reaching for the party poppers yet, admitting “where food prices go next is hard to predict” not least because of the vagaries of the global supply chain – new flashpoints include soyabeans and corn – and of course the weather.
On the retailer front, “margin- slashing discounting cannot be sustained for ever”, it warns. It’s a messy picture that suggests inflation is going to be sticking with us for a while.