Foodservice price inflation falls below 10% for first time in 2 years

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Good news tempered: inflation in food costs may have dropped but it is still higher than many categories (credit: Getty/BONDART)
Good news tempered: inflation in food costs may have dropped but it is still higher than many categories (credit: Getty/BONDART)

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Foodservice price inflation fell below 10% for the first time in two years but remains more than double the level of retail inflation.

Inflation, as measured by the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index, fell below 10% in March with the index author stating the news as a “welcome milestone for the sector” and follows the largest month-on-month decline ever recorded by the index of 1.4%.

The softening of inflation has also been seen in the consumer price index for food, which indicated only a marginal increase of 0.1% last month (March).

However, the rate in the Foodservice Price Index (FPI) remains more than double the level of retail, which stands at 4.0% year-on-year.

Fundamental shift

While only one FPI category decreased in price year-on-year in March, all of them recorded a reduction in prices month-on-month, which CGA said was a sign of a fundamental shift in markets.

Inflationary pressures have also been relieved by an easing in UK wage costs, where real-terms growth fell to 2.9% in February.

Meanwhile, an increase in the national living wage in April will likely cause a temporary rise in growth CGA predicted, as the trend in reduced wage rises is expected to help ease inflation in the months ahead, with the Office for Budget Responsibility anticipating the CPI to be at or near the 2% target by the fourth quarter of 2024.

While the latest figures indicate a positive direction for foodservice, the sector continues to navigate potential challenges including the implementation of border checks in the UK, which may contribute to additional supply costs.

Acute attention

Prestige Purchasing CEO Shaun Allen said: “While the continued decline in inflation rates is undoubtedly positive news, it is crucial for hospitality businesses to exercise acute attention to their purchasing strategies during this period.

“As price inflation falls, it presents a pivotal opportunity for operators to review and refine their procurement processes, ensuring they capitalise on the changing market conditions to secure the best possible terms and maintain a competitive edge.”

CGA by NIQ client director James Ashurst added: “After two years of relentlessly high inflation, a fall into single digits in March brings some welcome respite.

“Along with signs of increased consumer demand, it makes us cautiously optimistic for businesses as we move further into 2024.

“However, high prices in food and elsewhere have caused significant damage, and it may be some time before we achieve sustained low inflation and real-terms sales growth.”

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