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Food price hike just in time for Christmas

THE washout summer wasn't much and now it's going to cause a belt-tightening winter.

Higher food prices are set to hit Irish consumers in the run-up to Christmas.

The effects of global weather conditions, including a drought in the United States, and a dramatic increase in the cost of animal feed, will push up food prices here.

Everything from the cost of a fry-up to everyday vegetables are set to be hit.

The rain and lack of summer sun has led to reduced potato, parsnip and carrot crops. Even the humble apple has been badly affected.

It comes at a time when 81pc of consumers here are shopping in more than one store a week to avail of bargains. The EU statistics body Eurostat found that food and drinks here are 18pc more expensive than average in the EU.

The increase in food prices will be carried through to the Christmas table.

There have been record rises in the price of wheat and soya meaning that the cost of bird feed has gone through the roof in recent months. Given that the cost of feed makes up two thirds of the overall price of rearing a turkey, it is likely that this will have to be passed onto the consumer.

Dave Lang, development manager at Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland told the Herald that "It is likely that turkeys will be a little bit dearer this Christmas."

Jimmy Burke, UCD's professor of crop science, said that higher food prices could be because of problems with the grain harvest at home and abroad.

He pointed out that the grain market has been shaken in the past few months worldwide.

"Obviously the feed cost for the pig and poultry industry are very significant," he said.

"In Ireland, our grain output is down 500,000 tonnes.

"Ireland is a grain deficit country. We rely on imports to balance our demand," he said.