British consumer group Which? has urged the government to take action to support households when the competition watchdog publishes its review of grocery pricing, saying some food prices have jumped by as much as 175% since 2021.
Based on analysis of more than 21,000 food and drink products at market leader Tesco TSCO.L, Sainsbury's SBRY.L, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose and Ocado, Which? found that supermarket prices rose by 25.8% between June 2021 and June 2023.
Food prices have been driven up by increased costs for animal feed, fertiliser and fuel as well as energy and labour. Poor harvests, bird flu and a weaker pound have compounded matters.
High Inflation Impact
However, Which? said its findings show some supermarket products have been hit with disproportionately high inflation.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is due to update on competition and pricing in the grocery sector this month. It has previously said it had not found evidence pointing to specific concerns.
"If competition issues are found, the CMA should be ready to take appropriate action," Which? said, adding that finance minister Jeremy Hunt should also provide an update on his progress on agreeing measures with industry to ease the pressure on consumers.
UK supermarkets have rejected allegations that they have profiteered through a cost of living crisis.
British Retail Consortium
Responding to Which?, the British Retail Consortium, which represents the major supermarkets, said retailers had not passed on to consumers all the cost pressures they have faced.
"The hard work being done by retailers to absorb cost increases means the UK offers among the cheapest grocery prices in Europe," said BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson.
She also pointed out that the prices of some key staples, such as butter and bread, have begun to fall in recent weeks.
Governments across Europe have been struggling with high inflation. Last month the French government secured a pledge from 75 food companies to cut prices on hundreds of products. Hungary, meanwhile, has imposed mandatory price cuts.
While the UK government has raised concerns about soaring food prices it has said it was not considering imposing price caps.