The latest figures have shown food inflation in March rose at its sharpest rate since February 2014.

The figure accelerated 1% during March, up from the 0.8% fall in February.

According to the British Retail Consortium fresh food inflation was at 0.9% and ambient food inflation was 1.3%.

Helen Dickinson chief executive of the BRC, said: “Global food commodity costs have risen by 17 per cent on average over last year’s figures, building substantial pressure in the food supply chain. Although UK food shop prices are seeing their steepest rise this month for over two years, the increase is still only one per cent, reflecting the continuing intense competition between retailers. The limited increase is even more impressive, given the magnitude of the devaluation in sterling.

“The picture in non-food prices is also positive for consumers. Customers have now had the benefit of four years of non-food price deflation which increased to a two percent fall in prices year on year in March. Looking across both food and non-food, shop prices in total have been falling for 47 consecutive months. Other factors outside of retail shop prices continue to be the main drivers of CPI rising faster than expected, for the moment at least. The squeeze on household disposable incomes will tighten as the year progresses.

“Looking ahead, ensuring the continuation of value for consumers through tariff-free trade must be at the heart of plans for a smart Brexit.

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: “Inflation is gaining momentum across the economy but in food retailing, the cost price increases being passed onto shoppers in March was lower than the Consumer Price Index and in the Non-Food channel there is still deflation. We anticipate this trend to continue over the next few months. If so, this would be good news for shoppers managing household budgets when prices are rising faster elsewhere and with Easter falling later this year, it may help overall retail sales growths.”

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