Personal Finance

UK Food Prices 2020

From milk to bread to veg, here's how average UK food prices have risen in recent years, including a UK food price index and graph.

Average Food Prices UK

Food prices in the UK have increased 21% in the past ten years, and 1.8% in the last year alone, according to Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from the Office for National Statistics. This is slightly less than the change in the overall CPI (25% from 2008 to 2018 and 2.4% last year) which means food has risen in price, but less so than other common household expenditure items.

While alcohol prices have increased less than food (an 18.8% increase over ten years or .9% over one year), non-alcoholic drinks like soft drinks have gone up a whopping 3.9% in the past year alone, or 28.3% over ten years.

Food Price Index UKCPI 2008CPI 2017CPI 20181-Year Change10-Year Change
Overall CPI84.7103.4105.92.4%25.0%
Food84.1100101.81.8%21.0%
Non-alcoholic beverages79.598.21023.9%28.3%
Alcoholic beverages84.299.11000.9%18.8%
food prices uk graph
Here's how UK food and drink prices have changed in the past few years

We found that the categories with the biggest percentage change in price since 2017 are oils and fats (up 5.9% in one year) and fish (up 3.8%). At the other end of the spectrum, meat has only risen 0.9%, and bread and cereals have gone up 1.1% in price in the past year.

When considered over the past 10 years, there are four food categories for which we're paying around a third more for now: fish, fruit, sugar (including jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery) and oils and fats.

Food Price Index UK, by CategoryCPI 2008CPI 2017CPI 20181-Year Change10-Year Change
Fish78.3106.3110.33.8%40.9%
Fruit77.1103.8106.72.8%38.4%
Sugar, jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery74.999.9101.61.7%35.6%
Oils and fats83.9105.5111.75.9%33.1%
Bread and cereals85.6101.0102.11.1%19.3%
Meat84.097.698.50.9%17.3%
Vegetables including potatoes and tubers88.197.999.81.9%13.3%
Milk, cheese and eggs95.398.5100.92.4%5.9%
Food84.1100101.81.8%21.0%
Graph showing how UK food prices of milk, bread, meat, etc. have changed 2005 to 2018
Here's how prices have risen for bread, milk, meat, fruit, etc. in the UK.

Grocery Prices UK: Carrots to Tea Bags

We also looked at Retail Price Index (RPI) data and found how grocery prices have changed for specific popular food items. Given that the average monthly cost of groceries per person in the UK is £110, RPI data can tell us which items on our shopping lists are getting more expensive compared to last year.

Foods that cost significantly more this year include sugar, coffee and carrots. For example, the average price of sugar has risen 10% in the past year to 75p per kilo; coffee is up to £3 per 227 grams. On the other hand, mince has dropped in price this year and now costs £6.98 per kilo on average.

Over the past 30 years, the average retail price of a pint of beer has gone up by 2.5X. Coffee, bread, sausages, mince, chicken and cheddar cheese have all more than doubled in price from 1988 to 2018. On the other hand, bananas cost 12% less than they did 30 years ago!

Grocery Prices UK1988201720181-Year Change30-Year Change
Sugar, kg£0.53£0.68£0.7510%40%
Ground coffee, 227g£1.39£2.83£3.006%116%
Carrots, kg£0.50£0.64£0.675%34%
Banana, kg£1.06£0.90£0.933%-12%
Bacon, kg£4.10£7.30£7.523%83%
White bread, loaf£0.46£1.03£1.063%130%
Milk, pint£0.26£0.43£0.442%68%
Sausages, kg£1.91£4.88£4.962%160%
Cheddar cheese, kg£3.00£7.18£7.281%142%
Tea bags, 250g£1.00£1.99£2.001%100%
Draught bitter, pint£0.88£3.05£3.060%248%
Roasting Chicken, kg£1.83£2.82£2.820%54%
Mince, kg£2.88£7.41£6.98-6%142%

How UK Food Prices Compare to Other Countries

According to Euromonitor, the UK ranks 3rd out of 110 countries for the lowest share of consumer expenditures that is spent on food at home. UK consumers spend just 8.1% of their consumer expenditures on food—behind only the US and Singapore where consumers allocate 6.4% and 6.9% of their consumer spending to food to be consumed at home.

This is only possible because food prices in the UK are relatively low compared to the rest of the world.

CountryExpenditure on food (USD per person)Consumer expenditures (USD per person)Food Spend/Consumer Spend
USA2,62641,3116.4%
Singapore1,50321,9076.9%
United Kingdom2,16826,7708.1%
Ireland2,09923,2679.0%
Canada2,35125,9619.1%
Switzerland3,90942,7149.2%
Australia3,00432,3909.3%
Germany2,56323,91810.7%
Netherlands2,62123,08311.4%
Spain2,21818,28712.1%
France2,98322,58613.2%
New Zealand3,27824,48213.4%
Belgium3,03522,60613.4%
Italy2,98721,03214.2%
Poland1,4808,85216.7%
Greece2,51114,70117.1%
Turkey1,2105,54421.8%

FAQs

While UK food prices dropped around 2% a year from 2014 to 2016, in most years food prices rise. From 2008 to 2018, food prices rose in seven of the ten years, with an average increase of 2.8% (range of -2.7% in 2015 to +10.1% in 2008).

Yes. Food prices in the UK rose 1.8% from 2017 to 2018.

Food prices are affected by many factors, including oil prices (affects the cost to deliver food from farm to consumer), weather (if extreme weather conditions affect crops then prices are likely to rise due to shortages), demand (again, basic supply-demand principles) and even tariffs.

The expectation is that food prices would increase if there's a no-deal Brexit, but there are a lot of factors and uncertainty surrounding this issue.

While food prices can vary from year to year with food prices actually going down in some years, on average food prices rise +2% a year. We expect this trend to continue.

This is a bit of a chicken and egg question. Inflation is a measure of how prices are rising for a basket of goods, including food. So when food prices rise, inflation rises. However, food prices can be affected by other items in the inflation basket. For example, if the price of oil goes up then food prices might rise, because it's more costly to ship food to consumers. Similarly, if the price of animal feed (e.g., corn) increases then the price of meat may increase.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

Comments