Belfast Telegraph

Why putting food on the table could be costing you an extra £127 each month

By Emily Moulton

Northern Ireland families have been warned to brace themselves for further misery as the cost of basic groceries seems set to rise.

Essentials such as bread, cereals, milk and meat will increase over the coming months as a result of adverse weather conditions around the world, experts have said.

A double whammy brought about by the drought in Russia and the floods in Pakistan are expected to push up global food prices.

Over the last three years alone, the cost of a weekly shopping basket has increased by an average of 59%, while incomes have remained the same.

That means in Northern Ireland, where the average family spends around £54* per week on groceries, an extra £127 must be found each month just to put food on the table.

Ulster's leading retail expert, Donald McFetridge from the Ulster Business School, University of Ulster said: “But it’s not just food prices that are rising, but commodities in general. The price of cotton has gone up by 50% in the past year.

“The price of oil generally fluctuates as well and that impacts on distribution of goods.

“As for the price of cereals and grains, this will be affected for some time if the drought continues in Russia.”

Northern Ireland recorded the highest unemployment increase in the UK last month, with an extra 800 people claiming benefits in July. That means there is a total of 56,800 people out of work who are also trying to live off benefits.

The Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network and Citizens Advice have both seen an increase in the demand for their services over the past year and fear this will only increase.

”More people have moved into what we call severe poverty where they have to make a choice between food or fuel,” a spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network explained.

“In 2008 there were 44,000 in that bracket. While we don’t have the figures for this year anecdotally we know it has gone up.

“We have also seen an increase in the number of people who are classed as persistent — which means they have been living in poverty for more than three years. And that figure is considerably higher here than the rest of the UK.”

Earlier this week, it emerged

consumers are now paying more than one and a half times more for basic grocery items than they were three years ago.

The figures, which were compiled by comparison website mysupermarket.co.uk, found the price of staples such as bread and eggs increased by 18%, tea was up by 30% while the cost of rice rose by 59%.

Meat has also become increasingly costly to buy, with the overall price of products rising by 10%.

And in the past year, the average price of fruit has jumped 9.9%, while fish is up by 7.8%.

A spokeswoman from Citizens Advice said the current economic climate has seen many of their clients struggling to meet their basic household costs including paying for food.

*Figure provided by the ONS.

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