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Prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks rising at fastest rate in 45 years
The prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose at the fastest rate in more than 45 years in the 12 months to February 2023.
The annual inflation rate in this category was 18.2%, up from 16.8% in the year to January 2023. Indicative modelled estimates suggest that the rate would have last been higher in August 1977, when it was estimated to be 21.9%.
The largest contributor to the rise in food inflation was vegetables, which rose by 18.0% in the year to February 2023 compared with 15.5% in January.
There have been media reports of shortages of salad produce and other vegetables, reportedly because of bad weather in southern Europe and Africa, and the impact of higher electricity prices on produce grown out of season in greenhouses in the UK and northern Europe.
As the cost of food continues to rise, half of adults in Great Britain are buying less food when food shopping, according to our latest public opinions and social trends survey.
When asked between 8 and 19 March 2023, 50% of adults reported buying less food in the previous two weeks.
The survey also reveals around one in four adults (26%) experienced shortages of essential food items in the past two weeks.
This was similar to 27% in the previous period (22 February to 5 March 2023) but well above the 16% recorded during a similar period a year earlier (3 to 13 March 2022).
When asked what actions they were taking to save money on food, over half of adults said they were buying cheaper food (53%), around one in four were buying more tinned or longer shelf-life food (26%), and around one in five were eating food past its use-by date (21%). This is according to Winter Survey data from 15 to 26 February 2023.
Around one in six adults in Great Britain (16%) were classed as food insecure.
Food insecurity was most common among adults:
with moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms (42%)
who are not in work and not looking for work ("economically inactive") and not retired (35%)
living in the most deprived areas of England (31%)
One of the indicators we use to measure food security is whether adults report cutting down portion sizes or skipping meals. Around one in seven (14%) adults reported doing this. Around one in six (17%) adults were also very or somewhat worried that their food would run out before they had money to buy more.
Prices are also rising at record pace in restaurants and cafés, where the annual inflation rate was 11.4% in the year to February 2023, up from 9.4% in January 2023. This came from price rises for alcohol served in restaurants, cafes, and pubs.
How this affects you
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Read our summary of ONS' current and future analytical work related to the cost of living.
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