U.K. Warned to Expect Higher Food Prices

November 3/London/The Express -- Shoppers in the U.K. are being warned to prepare for higher food bills.

A sharp rise in the cost of wheat and corn last month led to the biggest hike in food prices for more than a year, an industry body has said. The British Retail Consortium also warned of more increases on the way due to higher VAT in January and because many retailers are shielding consumers from price rises.

BRC economist Richard Lim said, "We are probably going to see food price inflation continue to rise for the next few months, but we don't expect it to reach 2008 levels."

Impact BRC research shows food prices in October were 4.4% higher than a year ago.

Vegetable oil and margarine saw double-digit rises, while fruit showed its biggest price increases since April 2009.

However, Julian Hunt, communications director for the Food and Drink Federation, said, "VAT is only applied to luxury or non-essential goods such as soft drinks and confectionary. That will have an impact on supermarket shelves, but not on the basics.

"We are in a much better place than we were two years ago when inflation almost hit double digits."

From the November 15, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition