FOOD prices are set to rise in the coming months as supermarkets pass on rising world prices for basic foodstuffs.
Low spending power means Irish consumers have so far escaped the full impact of rising global prices.
Farmers here have enjoyed double-digit increases in most of the foods they produced in the past year.
The economic squeeze and supermarket price wars mean consumers have been spared the full impact of price hikes.
However, global factors including fuel price hikes and growing Asian economies are increasing pressure for price hikes.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation -- which tracks cereal, meat, dairy and sugar prices -- predicted yesterday that global food prices would remain high and volatile in the next 12 months.
"The prices will remain high compared with other years," said FAO director general Jose Graziano da Silva.
Butter and sugar are the only products that have soared in price in supermarkets here in the last year.
But overall food inflation has been muted at 1.6pc, the latest Central Statistics Office figures show.
The Irish Farmers' Association said after a strong year in 2011, prices were easing back.
But any price decline was likely to be moderate and there could be more increases in 2012.
Price rises in Irish stores now appear inevitable, 'Checkout' magazine editor Stephen Wynne-Jones predicted.
"Take chocolate for example -- as Asian economies develop they're eating more of it and prices have soared," he said.
High wheat prices also feed through, and pressures will increase if there is any type of problem such as drought in Russia, which caused a previous price spike.
Meanwhile, a new survey published by 'Checkout' yesterday showed that 81pc of consumers shopped in more than one store each week to avail of bargains.
Some 23pc of the 300 consumers surveyed said they will spend less on groceries this year, and 42pc said they will opt for more own-brand products, while almost half will shop at discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl.