The shortage of salad and vegetables contributed to the fastest increase in food prices in 45 years, which caused the cost of living in the UK to rise unexpectedly. In February, inflation rose to 10.4%, up from 10.1% in January, as alcohol prices in restaurants and bars increased.
While fuel prices continued to fall, clothing costs increased last month, particularly for women and children. The unexpected figures occur ahead of a Thursday decision on interest rates.
The Bank of England and the UK’s Central Bank will decide whether to raise, lower, or hold interest rates as it fights inflation. It has increased interest rates ten times since December 2021 to slow the rapid price rise by making borrowing money more expensive and encouraging people to cut back on spending.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) kept track of the expenses of hundreds of everyday items to calculate inflation, measuring how prices change over time. It stated that the inflation figure for February was heavily influenced by the ongoing rise in food costs when supermarkets were experiencing shortages of particular salad and vegetable items.
As severe weather in Spain and North Africa impacted harvests and high energy costs affected growers in the UK, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers were among the products involved. Supply chain issues were another factor that contributed to the issue.
According to the ONS, the shortages contributed to food inflation reaching 18.2%, the highest rate since 1978, and raising prices for milk, olive oil, and eggs.