UK grocery inflation hits new high of 17.5% -Kantar

People shop for groceries in south east London
Fruit is displayed for sale on a stall in Lewisham Market, south east London, Britain, March 9, 2023. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
  • Grocery inflation in March at highest level ever recorded
  • Milk, eggs and cheese show fastest price rises
  • Shoppers face 837 pounds rise in annual grocery bill

LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - British grocery inflation rose again in March to a record 17.5%, inflicting yet more pain on consumers battling a cost-of-living crisis, industry data showed on Tuesday.

Market researcher Kantar said prices were rising fastest in markets such as eggs, milk and cheese.

It said UK households now face an additional 837 pounds ($1,028) on their annual shopping bills if they do not change their behaviour to cut costs.

"It’s more bad news for the British public, who are experiencing the ninth month of double-digit grocery price inflation," said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar's head of retail and consumer insight.

The Kantar data for March provides the most up to date snapshot of UK grocery inflation.

Official UK data published last week showed overall consumer price inflation rose to 10.4% in February, which higher food and drink prices in pubs and restaurants pushed up, with shortages of salad items also playing a role. Overall inflation for food and non-alcoholic drinks rose to 18.0%, the highest since 1977.

Separate data published by the British Retail Consortium and market researcher NielsenIQ on Tuesday showed soaring food prices pushed overall inflation in British shops to its highest in at least 18 years in March.

Kantar's McKevitt said shoppers were taking action and hunting around for the best value, noting footfall was up in every single grocer in March.

"If people don’t like the prices in one store they will go elsewhere, with consumers visiting three or more of the top 10 retailers in any given month on average," he said, noting increased usage of grocers' loyalty card schemes.

Shoppers are also picking up more own label lines, which are generally cheaper than branded goods. Sales of own label lines were up 15.8% over the four weeks year-on-year.

Kantar noted that independent retailers stepped in to help shoppers who could not get the salad vegetables they wanted in larger supermarkets, with March volumes of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in baskets rising by 32%, 26% and 21% respectively in these stores.

It said total grocery sales over the 12 weeks to March 19 rose 8.6%.

Kantar said discounter Lidl was the fastest growing supermarket with its sales up 25.8% over the 12 weeks, with sales at rival Aldi up 25.4%, driving record market share of 9.9%.

UK grocers' market share and sales growth (%)

Source: Kantar

($1 = 0.8146 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Josie Kao

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