Prices in the supermarkets are still rising sharply with food and drink inflation now at its highest level in over 45 years, adding to the inflation pain suffered by West of England households.

Food and drink prices rocketed by 19.1% in March, according to the ONS – up from 18% per year in February, and the highest seen since 1977 – some 46 years ago.

But some products have jumped by even more, with the sharpest rises in March seen for everyday staples like olive oil (up 49%), milk (up 38%) and eggs (up 32%).

Bread and cereal prices rose by 19.4%, while meat cost 17.4% more than in March 2022 and Vegetable prices jumped 19.3%. Fruit is 10.6% more expensive than a year ago.

The ONS says soaring food and drink prices meant the cost of living rose more than expected last month, with overall inflation remaining in double digits – at 10.1% – and the ONS warns this could remain the case next month unless food inflation is gripped.

The news comes after Which? yesterday found it is the cheapest everyday products which are being the hardest hit by rising costs, warning that even value foods, despite remaining a cheaper option, are at risk of becoming too expensive for locals on the tightest budgets.

Responding to the latest figures, Metro Mayor Dan Norris blamed 13 years of Conservative government that had left the country with “weak economic foundations” meaning “prices are out of control”. He said: “These latest figures perhaps won’t come as a surprise to residents – we’ve all seen those sky-high prices in the shops. But it nonetheless paints a really bleak picture for the hundreds of households in the West of England already skipping meals: the cost-of-living crisis hasn’t gone away – whatever the Government might think – and it is the poorest who are feeling the brunt. While supermarket chains can and should do more to support hard-pressed locals, it is ministers who need to grip this. Yet the truth is under the Tories, this country has weak economic foundations and we are all seeing the results – taxes up, debt up and prices out of control. Never before have West of England residents paid so much to get so little in return. Enough is enough. At a minimum, we need ministers to bring forward Labour’s really vital plan to drive up pay, transform workers’ rights and deliver good working conditions for all.”

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