FOOD price inflation remains at 10% with prices still near record highs, but the situation could worsen next year as El Niño and climate change continues, a report warns.

As energy prices have come down in 2023, climate costs have gone up compared to last year, scientists at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) say.

Climate change now accounts for a third of all food price inflation, according to their new research released on Monday (27 November).

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The continuing of the El Niño weather phenomenon, on top of climate change, could lead to more severe climate impacts and further increases in food prices in 2024, the report warns.

In the UK, drought in 2022 hit key staples such as potatoes and onions and has been followed by an unusually wet harvest in 2023, and then the hottest September on record.

More recently, Storm Babet left hundreds of acres of prime farmland under water, delivering the third wettest three day period since records began in 1891 and hitting supplies of potatoes and other vegetables.

The report explains that climate costs have increased since last year, rising from £171 in 2022 to £192 in 2023, more than offsetting the effects of falling energy prices this year.

These increased climate impacts mean that climate change has now added more than energy to food bills since the beginning of 2022, with £361 of price increases attributable to climate change, and £244 to oil and gas costs.

The report looked at fossil fuel price rises and the rise in global temperatures relative to a 1950-80 baseline to calculate the impact on food prices.

Professor Wyn Morgan, one of the authors, said it was clear from the evidence that climate change was an increasingly prominent feature among the drivers of food price inflation.

"In 2022, energy costs dominated the headlines and these fed through to a high headline rate of inflation for food," he said.

"And yet, as energy costs have fallen back, climate change has emerged as a bigger driver of inflation for food over the last two years."

Assuming an average food price inflation of 15% for 2023, the report's results suggest that climate change alone will account for a third of price increases this year.

Given that experts expect climate impacts to get worse, it is likely that climate change will continue to fuel a cost of living crisis for the foreseeable future, the ECIU warns.

And with an El Niño event now confirmed, next year 'may have even worse in store' for hard pressed shoppers.

Tom Lancaster, land analyst at ECIU, said climate change was playing havoc with global food production.

"Across 2022 and 2023, climate change alone added the equivalent of six weekly shops to the average household food bill.

“Added to that the dependence of our current farming system on volatile oil, gas, and fertiliser prices, and the last two years have seen a perfect storm of extreme weather, high gas prices, and global instability leading to unprecedented food price inflation."