We all know that food prices have been affected as much as anything by inflation. In fact, food prices, along with fuel prices, are the main cause of the increase in the cost of living.
While the supermarkets claim to be doing their bit to keep costs down, the largest contributor to the rise in food inflation was bread and cereals, for which average prices rose by 19.4% in the year to March 2023. While there might not be much we can do to avoid inflationary prices, at least we can now keep track of the, with a new online tool released by the Office for National Statistics.
The new tool allows you to compare the average prices of over 450 items in the consumer prices inflation basket.
In the past year, 95% of these items have increased in price, with cucumbers (up 52%), olive oil (up 49%) and hard cheese (up 44%) seeing the largest increases.
The tool contains items ranging from bananas to cola, and aims to help improve the accessibility of existing ONS data by easily allowing users to track average price trends.
As well as showing average price changes on an item-by-item basis, the tool also lets you create your own bespoke basket of items and calculate the total average price change across these items, such as the cost of a roast dinner.
Each month, the ONS publishes the latest annual inflation rate, which measures the change in the price of regularly purchased items (known as the basket of goods and services) compared with the same time the previous year.
Some goods and services contribute more to the overall inflation rate than others: if some items see a large increase in prices, while others stay more stable, then inflation would be driven by the changing prices in that spending category.
The new tool will be updated every month to reflect the latest inflation data and will be refreshed each March to accommodate the latest changes to the items in the inflation basket.
The shopping prices comparison tool has been built to help people understand why their household might have experienced inflation. It shows how the average price of different items has changed in the last year by using the published item level indices and price information collected monthly.
You have the option to select from more than 450 items in the interactive tool, which are currently in the consumer prices basket used to produce inflation. The ONS tool also features sections for other expenses such as dining out and recreation, clothing, household items, services, transport and health.
The average prices included in the item level interactive are calculated using the price quotes collected as part of the consumer prices monthly price collection. The number of price quotes collected per item will differ and does not reflect the average of all prices possible for each item in the basket. The average price estimates presented are experimental, that is, they are still in the testing phase and are not fully developed.
Included in the ONS food price comparison checker are:
Bitter Bottle of gin Bottle of vodka Bottle of whiskey Cans of lager Champagne bottle Cream liqueur (14-20%) Flavoured cider bottled Fortified wine Pre-mixed spirit drink Premium lager Red wine Speciality bottled beer (4.5-5%) Stout
Bread rolls (white or brown) Crumpets Individual cakes Large white unsliced bread Pack of wraps/tortillas Sponge cake White sliced bread Wholemeal sliced bread
Breakfast cereal (gluten free) Breakfast cereal (low-sugar/non-chocolate coated) Breakfast cereal (sugar/chocolate coated) Cereal bar Hot oat cereal
Butter, spreads and oils
Butter Dairy free spread/margarine Dairy spread/margarine Olive oil Spreadable butter
Chicken kiev Chilled garlic bread Chilled ready meal (fish/veg) Chilled ready meal (meat) Meat free sausages Non-dairy milk drink Quiche
Chocolate and sweets
Bag of sweets (chocolate) Chewing/bubble gum Chocolate caramel bar Chocolate wafer bar Fruit pastilles Large chocolate bar Malted chocolate sweets Milk chocolate bar Mints
Coffee, tea and cocoa
Coffee pods Coffee sachets pack Hot chocolate drink Instant coffee Small box of tea bags
Continental sliced deli type meat Cooked ham (sliced) Cooked turkey/chicken (sliced) Individual meat pie Multipack meat based snack Whole rotisserie chicken
Corn snack Crisps Multipack crisps
Cheddar cheese Chilled pot dessert Eggs Fresh double cream Hard cheese Parmesan cheese Semi skimmed milk Small yoghurt Soft cheese Whole milk
Canned tuna Fresh salmon fillets Fresh white fish fillets Frozen breaded/battered white fish Frozen fish fingers Frozen prawns
Avocados Bananas Blueberries Dessert apple Grapefruit Grapes Kiwi fruit Lemon Melon Orange Pineapple Plums Raspberries Small oranges
Broccoli Carrots Cauliflower Courgettes Cucumber Iceberg lettuce Mushrooms Onions Peppers Pre-packed salad Tomatoes Vegetable stir fry pack
Frozen beef burgers Frozen berries Frozen chicken nuggets Frozen ready cooked meal Frozen vegetable burger Ice cream
Jams, marmalades and honey
Bacon Beef mince Beef roasting joint Beef steak Fresh boneless chicken breast Fresh turkey diced/minced Fresh/chilled whole chicken Gammon Lamb loin chop/steak Oven ready gammon/pork joint Pork loin chops with bone Pork sausages
Powdered baby formula Protein powder
Baking potatoes New potatoes Pre-prepared mashed potatoes Sweet potato White potatoes
Sauces, pickles, chutney
Cook-in sauce Mayonnaise
Fizzy drink Fizzy energy drink Flavoured water Fruit juice (excluding orange juice) LemonadeMixer drink Multipack of cola/fizzy drink Regular cola drink Still mineral water Still water
Baked beans Basmati rice Canned fruit Canned sweetcorn Canned tomatoes Couscous Dried fruit pack Dry spaghetti or pasta Granulated white sugar Microwavable rice Packet of peanuts Peanut butter Popcorn
The ONS’ measures of inflation are designed to reflect the change in prices of goods and services bought by all households. The shopping prices comparison tool uses the latest available inflation indices, but it cannot predict how prices might change in the future.
The shopping prices comparison tool uses the ONS’ most comprehensive measure of consumer prices inflation, which is the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH). The CPIH is very similar to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), but includes the costs associated with owning, maintaining and living in one’s own home. It does not measure the change in the value of a house. Note that the shopping prices comparison tool does not include any items reflecting costs associated with owning a home. The CPIH covers household spending on goods and services but not spending by businesses.
You can find the new ONS Shopping Prices Comparison tool here.