Households ‘struggling to meet basic needs’ as bread and butter prices rise

Cost of everyday food items go up, with prices now over 13% more than this time last year, official stats show

Shopping basket with fresh food
(Image credit: Getty)

Easter Sunday lunch could cost a whopping 25% more this year as prices of many basic items, including bread, milk, butter, meat and cooking oil, are rising according to the Office for National Statistics.

Inflation is now 7%, up from 6.2% in February, and rising at its fastest rate for 30 years, which is piling the strain on increasingly squeezed household budgets.

When it comes to the rising price of basic food items, bread was up 2.3% in March, and now 5.5% expensive than a year ago.

Butter increased by 5.1% last month and milk was up by 1.7%, with prices now over 13% more than this time last year.

The ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine has piled further pressure on already rising prices. Fertiliser is one of Russia’s biggest exports, and farmers are facing higher prices, which are filtering down through the supply chain.

Meat has also gone up. The price of lamb has increased by 1.7% in March, which means families are paying sixteen times more for a roast lamb lunch this weekend than last year.

Cooking oil and fats have seen the biggest rise, up 7% last month and 25% more compared with a year ago. This is because much of the world’s sunflower oil is produced by Russia and Ukraine, and disruption to supplies has led to price rises on supermarket shelves.

“Food price inflation is already at its highest level for over 10 years and the disruption in global markets means prices are likely to continue to climb in the months to come,” Karen Betts, Food and Drink Federation chief executive, said.

What are supermarkets doing to help customers? 

“Retailers are trying to help consumers by expanding their value ranges and doing all they can to keep the price of essentials down,” says British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson.

Asda is launching a new value range, ‘Just Essentials’, which will have 300 products - 50% more than its current ‘Smart Price’ range. This will be rolled out into stores from May.

When it comes to the weekly household shop, switching to the cheapest supermarket can save you around £250 a year. A basket of 21 basic items costs £26.83 at Lidl last month, according to consumer group Which?, up to £4.70 cheaper than the big four supermarkets including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. A weekly saving of £4.70 can mean savings of nearly £250 a year.

Sue Hayward

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!