Food prices see 25% annual rise amid vegetable shortages in UK supermarkets

Shoppers across the United Kingdom have had to limit the number of fresh fruit and vegetables in their trolleys over the past two weeks, as some of the biggest supermarket chains in the country have rationed their sales of salad vegetables. The latest consumer price index (CPI) rose by 10.4% in the twelve months, while the most significant upward contributions to inflation were brought by housing and household services (26.6%), along with food and non-alcoholic beverages (18%).

Although the annual increase in food prices in January 2023 (16.7%) has slowed down slightly from December 2022, when there was a 16.8% year-over-year rise, staples such as eggs, dairy and meat remained considerably more expensive than they were a year ago. February’s year-over-year food inflation hit 18% – the highest rate since 1977. This prompted the team at TradingPedia to look at grocery prices in the UK’s largest supermarket chain to find out how they have changed from March 2022. We picked 30 items sold at Tesco and added them to our food basket. It turned out that the total cost of this basket has increased by 24.6% in the course of a single year.

Comparison of Food Prices at Tesco

With a market share estimated at 26.9% (as of September 2022), Tesco is the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, followed by Sainsbury’s (14.6%), and Asda (14.1%). Consequently, for our price comparison, we looked at the prices offered at Tesco’s online store, without taking into consideration Clubcard prices or special offers of any kind. We selected 30 food items – mostly household staples such as fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, dairy and meat to create a basic food basket. We looked at the current prices and compared them to what these foods used to cost in March 2022.

According to our analysis, the total price of the food basket last year would have been £57.50, while shoppers now need to pay £71.65 for the exact same products. This is an increase of £14.15 or 24.61%, which is considerably more than what the official inflation figures show. Prices have jumped across all food categories, with most items being at least 10% more expensive now than they were last year. Some products, notably clementines, remain at the same price levels, and certain items such as apples are in fact cheaper in 2023 than they were in 2022.

The largest increase can be seen in the price of noodles, which are now 66.7% more expensive, a 400-gramme pack of mild cheddar is 60% more, and a six-pack of medium-sized eggs now costs 57.3% more than it did a year ago. The brand of biscuits we picked is 50.8% more expensive, and the soft cheese we chose is up exactly 50% from last year. Fresh chicken goujons with breadcrumbs coating and broccoli have increased by 47%. Interestingly, the salad tomatoes and fresh iceberg lettuce we had initially picked are currently out of stock at the online store.

Food and Utility Prices Fuel Inflation in February

Increases in housing and housing services, most notably water, electricity and gas, contributed the most to the overall inflation in February, with prices having gone up by 26.6%, according to the Office for National Statistics. Food prices, however, have also seen a huge rise – compared to the same period last year, they increased by 18%, data shows.

Among the foods with the largest price increases are olive oil (40.7%), sugar (38.4%), milk (34.4% for whole and 42.2% for low-fat milk), cheese and curd (34.9%), eggs (32.5%), flour (28.6%), and butter (27.5%). In comparison, non-alcoholic beverages rose by 16%, while the biggest jump (22%) was seen in the price of mineral or spring waters.


In order to compare current prices at Tesco with prices from 2022, we used the Wayback Machine tool of the Internet Archive, which stores billions of web pages and allows access to old content, deleted pages, etc. We looked at food items offered on 1 March 2023 and compared them to March 2022 offerings at Tesco’s online store. The food basket includes 30 products from several grocery categories, namely fresh food, baked goods and drinks that are part of the typical adult diet and come at an average, reasonable cost.

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