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Food costs a 13th of basket in 1862

Modern shoppers pay one 13th as much for their groceries as those who lived 150 years ago, according to new research.

A shopper would have needed £1,254.17 in real terms to fill their weekly basket with food, drink and household items in 1862 - compared to just £93.95 today.

The analysis, published by The Grocer magazine, took 33 items such as a dozen eggs, hot chocolate, a loaf of bread, a toothbrush and a litre of sherry, and applied an average earnings measure of inflation to their 1862 prices.

The biggest percentage changes were seen in fruit with the cost of a pineapple, which cost £1.72 this week and sold for 5s in 1862, estimated to cost £149 in real terms to the 1862 shopper, according to The Grocer.

That means today's price is a fall of 8,553%, the magazine said. The price of 1kg of grapes had dropped 7,419% while a melon fell by 5,971%, according to the calculations.

Elinor Zuke, a senior reporter at the magazine, wrote: "The reason food is so much cheaper in real terms today is that wages have gone up 10-fold over the last 150 years, while technological changes have made food from around the world readily available.

"In 1862 the average shopper would have spent about a third of their earnings on groceries, whereas now it is around 7% or 12% if you include eating out.

"Twenty years later, in 1882, butter was shipped to the UK from New Zealand for the first time.

"Butter and lamb from New Zealand are a good example of how bringing food from different places has made it more available and hence cheaper."

The report, which uses an original "Grocer 33" list of products and their prices from 1862, was carried out to celebrate The Grocer's 150th anniversary.

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