UK fresh food prices climb record 14.3% in November – BRC

By Suban Abdulla

LONDON (Reuters) - The cost of fresh food sold in British shops increased in November at the fastest annual rate since records began in 2005, a new blow for households grappling with the cost-of-living crisis, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said fresh food prices were 14.3% higher this month than a year ago.

Other food item prices surged at the fastest pace on record to 12.4% in November, up from 11.6% the month before, it said.

Overall shop price inflation rose to 7.4%, a record for the index which started 17 years ago, and up from 6.6% in October.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said there are signs cost pressures and price rises could ease next year, but shoppers still face a "bleak winter", forcing them to cut back on seasonal spending.

"Food prices have continued to soar, especially for meat, eggs and dairy, which have been hit by rocketing energy costs, and rising costs of animal feed and transport," she said.

Market research firm NielsenIQ, which co-produces the data, said Christmas will become more expensive as higher prices are already forcing consumers to limit spending on non-essential items.

"With prices still rising, the cost of Christmas will be higher this year and shoppers will be managing their budgets more closely than at any time since the start of cost-of-living crisis," said Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ's head of retailer and business insight.

The trade body's measure of inflation covers a narrower range of goods than the UK's consumer price index, which hit 11.1% in October.

The Bank of England is monitoring for signs that Britain's price rises don't lead to persistent inflationary pressures. The Bank has raised interest rates seven times since December as it battles to bring inflation back to its 2% target.

The BRC survey was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 5.

(Reporting by Suban Abdulla, editing by Andy Bruce)