It said inflation for vegetables hit 5.5% in 2012 and is expected to rise further. Fruit inflation was at 3.9% and meat at 3.2%, while other food categories experienced a less steep increase in 2012, such as fish (2.8%), bread and cereals (1.2%) and milk, cheese and eggs (0.4%). The cost of oils and fats actually fell by 1%.
Higher commodity prices also pushed up the prices of drinks, with spirits and soft drinks up 5.2%, wine up 2.6% and beer increasing 2.1%.
David Read, chief executive of Prestige Purchasing, said: "What we’re seeing is a surge in food inflation, which will continue into 2013. We may even, in due course, be heading back towards 2008 levels where food inflation peaked at more than 8%."
Buying specialist Lynx Purchasing has warned publicans that menu flexibility will be a key weapon against food price rises in 2013, particularly for those operators that are unable to raise their menu prices.
Managing director John Pinder said: "To an extent, pubs and restaurants are used to steady price rises across the board, but we’re moving into a new, volatile phase where there will be sudden, sharp spikes in the prices of particular commodities, as we’ve already seen with potatoes due to the poor UK crop."
The latest figures from the Potato Council show that in the week to 14 December, the wholesale price of UK-grown potatoes was £245.63 per tonne, more than double the £114.17 price in the same week the previous year.
"Many operators don’t check the prices they’re being charged for staple items. Our advice is to query price rises, and be ready to substitute alternative products — or switch suppliers."