Costs are soaring for businesses around Northern Ireland who are now wrestling with whether to pass on increases to their customers.
The inflation rate rose to 9.4% in June — slightly above expected and the highest level in 40 years.
Small businesses, including food retailers, are hurting but many are trying to keep their prices down, including Grattan’s Greengrocers in Donaghadee.
Owner Peter Wallace said: “I have tried to keep the prices as keen as possible. We are just about breaking even, but as long as I am making a bit of money, everyone is paid, then it is OK.”
Mr Wallace said his shop has to compete with the big retailers who are buying in bulk internationally, but he added the price of his tomatoes, for example, is still lower than the major stores. He also buys produce from local allotments and farmers.
“It’s very tight, with rent, rates, electricity, but we have to stick this out until it gets better, though nothing seems to be going back,” Mr Wallace added.
In March, Belfast restaurant Maggie Mays increased the price of its popular full fry by £0.50 in March to £7.50 in the face of increasing inflation and rising costs.
Increases in the costs of petrol and diesel, along with repeated energy hikes, have helped fuel the cost of living here, and this has impacted food costs at the till, which are up 9.8% year on year, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers.
Official data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveal that last month's 9.4% inflation rate was up by 0.3% from May and higher than the 9.3% expected by most economists.
Newly appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey have both pledged to get inflation under control.
Mr Zahawi said: “Countries around the world are battling higher prices and I know how difficult that is for people right here in the UK, so we are working alongside the Bank of England to bear down on inflation.”
In a speech in London on Tuesday evening, Mr Bailey said taking interest rates from 1.25% to 1.75% will be one of the options on the table at the next Bank meeting as it looks to “act forcefully” on inflation.
The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the cost of motor fuels jumped by 42.3% in the 12 months to June — the biggest leap since records began.
Average petrol prices stood at 184p a litre last month, up 18.1p since May alone, while diesel raced 12.7p higher to 192.4p a litre, which was also a record.
Britons are also being hit by sharply higher grocery bills, with food and non-alcoholic drink prices having risen by 9.8% in the year to June 2022 — the highest rate since March 2009.
Food prices lifted 1.2% month on month in June, which follows similar increases in April and May as higher cost pressures and the impact of the Ukraine war filter down to the supermarket shelves.
Grant Fitzner, chief economist at the ONS, said: “Annual inflation again rose to stand at its highest rate for over 40 years.
“The increase was driven by rising fuel and food prices; these were only slightly offset by falling second-hand car prices.”
Large hikes in energy prices are putting pressure on businesses here, with many being forced to pass costs on.
Wilson's Country in Portadown, which processes 800 tonnes of potatoes a week, told the BBC the biggest challenge is energy prices.
Managing director Lewis Cunningham said: “That relates to fuel of lorries and distribution costs and electricity costs to run the business from when you come in every morning and turn on the machinery.
“Especially now in this warm weather in the fresh food business we have chills running and that's an extra huge draw on electricity.”
He added: “Unfortunately the costs have been elevated now at such a high level with no outlook on the horizon of any costs reducing that we are having to pass these costs on.”
This story has been amended to reflect that Maggie Mays has said that the price of its full fry rose by £0.50 in March to £7.50, and not by £1, as previously stated.