Surging food costs have helped to drive the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) to its highest annual rate for three decades, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.

The CPI rose by 5.4% in the 12 months to December 2021, up from 5.1% in November. The last time the figure was higher was in March 1992 when it reached 7.1%.

The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) also rose in the 12 months to December 2021, by 4.8%. On a monthly basis, CPIH rose by 0.5% in December, compared with a rise of 0.2% in the same month a year earlier. Price rises in food and non-alcoholic beverages were the largest contributors to the monthly rate in December.

Change to the December 2021 annual rate was driven by price rises of 1.3% on the month, compared with a fall of 0.4% a year earlier. This effect was predominantly driven by food, with eight of the nine food groups increasing the headline rate.

Prices rose in seven food groups, and the ONS reported a further upward contribution from fish, where price falls in December 2020 were larger than they were in December 2021. Amongst the food groups, the largest contributions came from bread and cereals, meat, and vegetables, potatoes and other tubers.