Overall inflation including housing costs (CPIH) fell from October to November 2022, but the cost of food and non-alcoholic drinks has continued to rise.
The price of the lowest-cost household essentials like pasta, tea and bread have all gone up significantly in the past year, as highlighted in our experimental analysis article.
The most vulnerable appear to be the hardest hit, with 61% of those in the most deprived areas buying less food compared with last year, as opposed to 44% in the least deprived areas, according to our Public opinions and social trends data.
With Christmas just days away, over four in five adults (81%) reported to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that they were concerned about the cost of food during Christmas and New Year – up from 62% in the same period last year.
Rising food prices may even have a knock-on effect on health, with nearly one-quarter (23%) of survey participants saying they skipped or reduced the size of a meal because they could not afford to buy food, according to the FSA.
To see how inflation is impacting your cost of living, you can use our personal inflation calculator.
Overall inflation including housing costs (CPIH) decreased from 9.6% in October 2022 to 9.3% in November 2022.
Despite this, food and non-alcoholic drink inflation rose by 16.5% in the 12 months to November 2022, the highest increase since September 1977 (17.6%), according to data from the ONS Consumer Price Inflation bulletin.
Price rises for food and non-alcoholic drinks are having the greatest effect on record when it comes to driving up the overall inflation rate, with a 1.51 percentage point contribution in November 2022, the largest contribution since the start of the National Statistics series in 2006.
We are using the official inflation measure, the Consumer Price Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH). This rate increases or decreases based on changing prices for different goods and services. The Consumer Price Index inflation without housing costs (CPI) is 10.7%.
Staple foods, such as breads and cereals, have seen the largest price increases in the last month, increasing by 1.9%, contributing towards an increase of 16.6% in the year to November 2022.
This inflation increase has a greater effect on low-income households, who spend a greater proportion of their household budget on food and non-alcoholic drink, ONS data shows.
The inflation gap between low-income and high-income households is the largest it has been since March 2009, according to our Inflation and cost of living for household groups, UK: October 2022 article. In the year to October 2022, annual inflation (CPIH) for low-income households stood at 10.5%, while the figure for high-income households was 9.1%.
The majority of lowest-cost everyday grocery items have been rising in price. Although not directly comparable, the rise in prices for these items is similar to the 15% rise in the official measure of inflation for food and drink, reported in September 2022.
Using experimental methods, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) tracked the cost of 30 everyday grocery items, covering fresh fruit and vegetables, cupboard staples and chilled products. These data show that many of the lowest-cost items have gone up in price, although a small number have also decreased slightly in price.
Some of the lowest-cost everyday grocery items have increased by more than 20% in the year to September 2022
Selected 30 lowest-cost everyday groceries, item-level price changes, September 2022 compared with September 2021
Of the 30 sampled lowest-cost items, nine increased by more than 20% in the year to September 2022. The lowest-cost vegetable oil, pasta and tea were the items that experienced the largest increases in price during this period. Vegetable oil rose by 65%, pasta rose by 60%, and tea rose by 46%.
Lowest-cost vegetable oil, pasta and tea are among the nine items to have risen by more than 20% in the 12 months to September 2022
Average price of lowest-cost grocery items that have risen by 20% or more, September 2021 to September 2022, in pounds
The stark price rise in so many staple food items is causing people to buy less.
More than half (51%) of adults in Great Britain reported buying less when food shopping in the last two weeks. That has gone up from 1 in 10 (10%) adults a year ago, according to data from our Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) between 22 November and 4 December 2022.
Buying less food was more common for those living in the most deprived areas of England, with around three in five adults (61%) reporting they were buying less food when they went food shopping, compared with 44% of people in the least deprived areas.
Recent findings from the ONS Retail Sales bulletin highlighted that supermarkets have also noticed a decline in volumes sold because of increased cost of living and food prices. Food sales volumes have been on a downward trend since summer 2021, but rose by 0.9% in November 2022, with some retailers suggesting this was due to early Christmas spending. Despite volume sales declining, value sales have been on the rise, suggesting consumers are getting less for their money.
In addition to buying less food, people are also trying to spend less, with 46% of adults reporting that they were spending less money on food shopping and essentials because of increases in the cost of living, according to OPN data.
This change in behaviour was reported by 54% of adults in England’s most deprived areas, compared with just over one-third of adults (36%) in the least deprived areas.
Over half of all adults in the most deprived areas of England reported spending less on their food shopping and essentials because of increases in the cost of living
Proportion of adults who reported that they were spending less on their food shopping and essentials because of increases in the cost of living, by deprivation quintile, England, 22 November to 4 December 2022
Question: "Which of these, if any, are you doing because of the increases in the cost of living?
An area's deprivation quintile is based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). Estimates are provided for England only given the relatively smaller sample sizes on the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey in Scotland and Wales.
Data were collected online from people aged 16 years and over in Great Britain.
Around one in six (16%) adults in Great Britain were somewhat or very worried that their food would run out before they had money to buy more, while 6% said their household had run out of food and could not afford to buy more, new data from the OPN survey shows.
To save money on food, further data from the survey found that around three in five (59%) adults reported eating out less (which includes takeaways and eating at restaurants), just over half (53%) reported buying cheaper food, while 37% reported buying discounted food.
In November 2022, the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Consumer Insights Tracker found that 32% of participants reported feeling worried about being able to afford food in the next month, an increase from 25% reported in the same period a year ago (November 2021). However, this is a decrease from 39% in the previous month (October 2022).
Over four in five (83%) of those surveyed reported concerns about food prices in November 2022, according to data from the Food Standard Agency’s (FSA) Consumer Insights Tracker. This figure is higher than in November 2021 (71%) but is lower than the previous month (86% in October 2022).
With Christmas just days away, consumers have also revealed that they are worried about the costs that this time of year brings.
Around four in five (81%) of those surveyed by the FSA said they had concerns about the price of food over Christmas and New Year, up from 62% reported in the same period last year (November 2021).
Over four in five consumers expressed concerns about the price of food over Christmas and New Year
Proportion of survey participants’ concerns when doing their food shopping over Christmas and New Year, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, November 2021 to November 2022
Question: "Now I want you to think about Christmas (2022) and New Year (2023). How concerned, if at all, are you personally about each of the following when doing your food shopping?"
Data were collected online across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, from people aged 16 to 75 years.
The majority of those surveyed (69%) reported taking at least one action this year to save money on food for Christmas and New Year. When asked to compare this Christmas with last Christmas, one-third (33%) of participants said they changed to cheaper brands, while 29% stated that they were shopping around to get a better deal.
Around one in five (19%) adults in Great Britain reported eating smaller portions because of the cost of living in late November to early December 2022, new data from our Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) shows.
Data from the Food Standard Agency's (FSA) Consumer Insights Tracker found that in November 2022, nearly one-quarter (23%) of survey participants said they had skipped a meal or cut down the size of a meal because they could not afford to buy food in the past month. This is similar to the same period last year (21%, November 2021), however represents a decrease from 31% in the previous month (October 2022).
In November 2022, 29% of participants reported they could not afford to eat a healthy balanced diet, according to FSA data. While this still represents a high proportion, it is down from 36% in the previous month (October 2022).
Furthermore, in November 2022, around one in five (18%) participants reported that they have eaten cold food because they could not afford to cook hot food, and 26% said they have eaten food past its use-by date because they could not afford to buy more food.
Around three in ten consumers reported not being able to afford a healthy balanced diet
Proportion of participants who reported that the following had applied to them in the last month, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, September to November 2022
Question: "In the last month, which, if any, of the following have applied to you?"
Yes includes participants responding "Yes, I have done this every week", "Yes, I have done this some weeks but not every week" and "Yes, I have done this just one week in the last month".
Data were collected online across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, from people aged 16 to 75 years.
All of these figures are down from October 2022, which may suggest things are starting to improve, although further monitoring of these issues will be required. In early November 2022, cost-of-living payments were made to eligible households and the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) scheme was introduced in October 2022 to help with rising energy bills. Therefore, the effect of these may be showing through the recent findings.
Equivalisation is the process of accounting for the fact that households with many members are likely to need a higher income to achieve the same standard of living as households with fewer members.
Disposable income is income which is available for consumption and is equal to all income from wages and salaries, self-employment, private pensions, and investments, plus cash benefits less direct taxes.