Food costs keep rising despite the price war in shop aisles

Items such as bread, milk and butter have become significantly more expensive in the past year. Photo: Getty Images© Getty Images

Charlie Weston

Shopping bills continue to increase despite supermarket chains announcing small cuts in the price of some household staples.

The price of food and non-alcoholic drinks shot up by 13pc in the year to last month, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said, a situation that is piling pressure on family budgets.

Supermarkets have been announcing price cuts for their own-brand milk, butter and bread lately, but they came too late to be captured in the latest inflation figures, which show prices continuing to surge for these mainstays of the weekly shop.

Overall inflation eased slightly last month compared with last year, even though prices continue to rise.

Inflation was up 7.2pc in April when compared with the same month last year.

This is the lowest level in a year and is down from an annual increase of 7.7pc in the year to March.

But it is the 19th consecutive month in which the annual increase in the consumer price index has been at least 5pc.

Food, energy and mortgage costs rose sharply last month, the CSO figures show. Food prices were up 13.1pc in the year.

A breakdown of individual prices shows there was a big increase for an 800g loaf of white sliced pan. It was up 23 cent over the year.

An 800g loaf of brown sliced pan is now 18 cent dearer.

The price cuts announced by the supermarkets only cover their own brands, but the CSO records the price movements for all brands.

CSO statisticians said the average price of two litres of full-fat milk rose by 44 cent, with a pound of butter up by 66 cent when compared with April last year.

In percentage terms, the food-cost rises for households are very high. Huge cost rises were also seen in sugar, which is up 39pc over the year.

Frozen fish is up 30pc, whole milk by 24pc and butter by 19pc, with eggs rising in price in the year by 18pc.

Electricity costs were up 51pc, with gas 56pc more expensive in the last year.

Mortgage interest repayments were up 41pc since last year, as banks and non-bank lenders increased tracker rates and some variables while also making new fixed rates more expensive.

The cost of home insurance is up 23pc in the year as insurers claim that construction inflation is making it more expensive to cost households for damages.

When prices last month are compared with those in March, they were up 0.5pc, lower than the April 2022 rise of 0.9pc.

Davy Stockbrokers economist Conall Mac Coille said the figures show persistent price pressures for households.

“The increases in the price of food are very substantial,” he said.

Mr Mac Coille said it was significant that there have been no cuts in the cost of residential electricity and gas rates in this country, especially as there have been reductions in other EU countries.

Independent economist Austin Hughes said inflation is easing, but cost-of-living pressures remain problematic and are not showing any signs of going in the opposite direction any time soon.

Marian Ryan, consumer tax manager with financial advisory firm, warned consumers that excise duty rates on petrol and diesel will start rising from next month as the Government begins a phased restoration of full rates on motor fuels.

“Adding to people’s monetary stress is the incremental return of excise duty rates on petrol and diesel, which are set to increase by six cent per litre of petrol and five cent per litre of diesel from June 1,” she said.

“This poses a serious risk to households, particularly those in rural locations who simply cannot cut back on using their car.”

Ms Ryan said that without further financial assistance from the Government, many struggling families could find themselves dealing with unmanageable debt.