How inflation hits your weekly shop

RELATED QUOTES

SymbolPriceChange
TSCDY14.55-0.22
SBRY.L314.00-6.60

Which food items have gone up the most in price?

Headlines trumpeting "steady" inflation figures this week bear little resemblance to how the average family is feeling about spiralling shopping bills.

That is because, however "steady" a 2.7pc increase in living costs might seem to the economists, it still represents a rise in your food bill that is eating up a larger part of your income every week.

So, what's up and what is down in the family shopping basket? According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which takes a dry approach to these things, the main price increases in December this year came from fruit, oils and fats, and vegetables.

Within these categories some foods rose far more than others, with imported lamb, salmon fillets, milk, yogurt and bananas all pushing up the price of the family shop. Cucumber has gone up in price, too.

The Government's figures look academically interesting, but what do they mean in practice? Food price comparison site Mysupermarket.com has produced a handy new tool that tells you what the product you were buying has sold for on average over the past year.

This can be terribly useful, since it is all very well for us to scratch our heads and say "the shopping used to be cheaper", and quite another to work out where the increases are.

What this shows is that many everyday items are far more expensive than they were. Far from being a luxury, the white sliced loaf is now 79p at Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDY - news) , up by 7pc on its average price over the past 12 months. The company's standard English unsalted butter (part of the ONS fats and oils category) costs 10pc more than its average price over the past year at £1.49. Six Tesco free-range eggs, which have been an average of £1.50 for the past year, are now 6pc more at £1.59.

It's a similar story at Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY.L - news) 's. For those who aren't troubled by the "free range" label, Sainsbury's cheapest Basics eggs (which carry a Freedom Food label) are at their highest price this year 9pc more than the average 92p at £1 for six. Six pints of semi-skimmed milk are now 6pc more expensive at £1.89.

In terms of pennies, none of these increases is massive, but put together they all add up. And experts say that food price inflation is about to get worse. Despite the rise in the price of the Tesco loaf, the real cost of the poor wheat harvest has yet to filter through. For foodies, this week saw another looming pain on the horizon the poor grape harvest will apparently lead to a 25pc increase in the price of balsamic vinegar.

Given that this is one item that really is better aged, perhaps that might be one to add to the shopping list right away. Sainsbury's standard version is already 10pc more expensive than it has been all year but by next month £3 for 500ml might look like a bargain.