NationalNews

Food prices increased by a record annual rate of 15.7% last month as pressure continues to mount on household finances.

Fresh food prices saw a record jump of 17.8% year-on-year for April, while the price of ambient products, such as tinned goods and other store-cupboard items, went up 12.9%.

The latest figures come as the average price of food and non-alcoholic drinks in the UK has been seeing its sharpest increase in more than 45 years.

According to the latest BRC-NielsenIQ shop price index, shop prices went up 8.8% last month compared to the same period in the previous year.

This figure was slightly down from 8.9% in March and followed spring discounting at fashion and furniture stores.

It came as non-food stores recorded inflation of 5.5% for the month, slipping from 5.9% in March as shops reduced prices in a bid to attract customers.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "Overall shop price inflation eased slightly in April due to heavy spring discounting in clothing, footwear and furniture.

"However, food prices remained elevated given ongoing cost pressures throughout the supply chain.

"The knock-on effect from increased production and packaging costs meant that ready meals became more expensive and coffee prices were also up due to the high cost of coffee beans, as well as key producer nations exporting less.

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"Meanwhile, the price of butter and vegetable oils started to come down as retailers passed on cost savings from further up the supply chain."

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said: "In recent weeks, more retailers have used loyalty schemes or money off promotions to help stimulate sales.

"However, with inflation yet to peak and sales volumes in decline in many channels, it’s difficult to second guess the strength of consumer confidence."

The Trussell Trust charity recently reported a record near-three million emergency food parcels were handed out at food banks in the year to March as more households continued to struggle with bills and food costs.

The number of food parcels provided for children topped one million for the first time.

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