The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that prices for bakery products have fallen, despite being on the rise between the same period a year ago.

In the 12 months to March 2024, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 3.2%, down from 3.4% in February and below its recent peak of 11.1% in October 2022.

ONS’ data suggested that the October 2022 peak was the highest rate in over 40 years, and the annual rate in March was reportedly the lowest since September 2021, during which it was 3.1%.

Prices of some bakery products, such as chocolate biscuits and crumpets, fell between February and March 2024. However, ONS reported that the prices of these products had been rising during the same period in the prior year.

ONS said that meat prices also fell this year, dropping 0.5% between February and March, compared with a rise of 1.4% a year ago.

Prices for bread and cereals rose by 0.2% on the month, compared with a rise of 2.2% a year ago, resulting in an annual rate in March 2024 of 4% – the lowest since January 2022.

Overall, ONS said that the annual rate eased in eight of the 11 food and non-alcoholic beverages classes, with vegetables being one of the exceptions.

FDF responds to ONS data

Responding to the latest figures, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation Karen Betts said: “Food and drink price inflation fell again in March, to 4% from 5% in February. This corresponds to input price inflation that manufacturers experience, which also continues to ease. This is good news for consumers – with food and drink price inflation rates now much lower than they were a year ago and with some prices in shops falling.

“However, risks remain, including the increasing instance of extreme weather which is impacting agriculture globally. This has been very visible in the UK in recent weeks with this winter’s wet weather causing widespread flooding on farmland. Inevitably, lower or poorer crop yields caused by bad weather have the ability to impact food prices.”

Betts said: “In this context, we welcome the Prime Minister’s intention to hold another farm to fork summit at No.10 next month. Food security should be a focus of this, and how all parts of the food system should work together – and with Government – to ensure the UK has a secure supply of good quality food and drink. A central part of this regulation, and ensuring this fosters investment in the UK, including in innovation and food science.

“Unfortunately, current Government plans for “not for EU” labelling will have the opposite effect, as will current Government plans for Forest Risk Commodity regulations, where industry want the same outcome as Government but current proposals are not well designed and will create unnecessary burdens for supply chains. Both could lead to a disinvestment in UK food and drink over time. We hope the summit will help to resolve problems such as these with forward-looking solutions that are well within our reach.”