Inflation reached the UK Government’s target of 2% this week, but food prices continue to hover at near record levels due to continued wet weather.

Figures from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) which looked at ONS data, blamed extreme weather and climate change for the 40% increase in food prices.

It claims a shopping basket of food has gone up by £10, from £24 to £34, since inflation surged and the cost of living crisis began.

The basket of goods includes potatoes, rice, broccoli and coffee, which has increased from £23.73 to £33.96 in just three years.

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Although year-to-date inflation is down, prices have stayed at near record levels, and many foods have not come down since they started to rise rapidly in the second half of 2021.

This is particularly the case for foods affected by climate change in recent years, ECIU explained in its analysis. It says the price of a bottle of olive oil has increased by 136% since June 2021 from £3.64 to £8.60 a bottle, after record breaking heat and back to back droughts hit the olive harvest in Spain – the world’s largest producer.

A bag of sugar is up 72% at £1.19 from 69p, partly due to the impact of extreme weather in major global producers and closer to home, potatoes are up in price by 49%, with a 19% increase since December 2023. A 2.5kg bag now costs £2.20, up from £1.85 in just a few months, after the record breaking wet autumn and winter hit the UK potato harvest.

Tom Lancaster, analyst at ECIU, said weather extremes were adding to the cost of living, in turn eroding UK food security.

“Crops have been left rotting in flooded fields, global harvests have been hit by extreme heat and droughts, and the result is higher prices at the tills,” he noted. Scientists recently calculated that storm rainfall during the UK’s wet winter was made 20% heavier by climate change, as recent analysis shows that this could reduce the UK arable harvest by a fifth, knocking nearly a billion off farm revenues.

Alongside arable crops and potatoes, the wet winter has affected field vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflowers, which have increased in value by 43% and 32% respectively since 2021. These vegetables were also hit hard by the record breaking drought in 2022, which also had a major impact on onions, which are now 27% more expensive than they were in June 2021 at £1.08/kg, compared to 85p/kg.

Mr Lancaster warned: “This doesn’t end until we stop adding to the problem by bringing emissions down to net zero.” He also added that farmers need to be supported to make their harvests more resilient

“That means policies that rebuild soil health, expand hedges and plant trees that help to trap and hold flood waters,” he said.