'No end in sight' to cost of living crisis

Latest inflation figures show food prices continue to soar amid profiteering bonanza

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Inflation continues to stay at record highs, according to the latest figures, driven mainly by ongoing hikes in the price of food.

The consumer prices index (CPI) measure of inflation fell marginally from 10.4 per cent in February to 10.1 per cent in March – a smaller drop than analysts expected, with some having predicted a fall to 9.8 per cent. The latest figures mean that the UK is the only country in western Europe with double digit inflation.

The small drop in inflation was driven primarily by falls in the price of petrol and heating oil amid a global drop in the price of oil. But the dip was offset by continuing increases in the price of food, with the price of bread and cereals at record highs.

Other food items whose prices have risen steeply include chocolate and confectionery, fruit and meat. The price of ready meals, sauces and hot beverages also increased significantly. The latest rise in food prices represents the fastest annual increase since 1977.

Commenting on the latest ONS inflation figures released today (April 19), Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “These latest inflation figures change nothing for workers. The public are beginning to cotton on that it’s not wage rises driving prices its rampant corporate profiteering. There’ll be no end in sight to the crisis until we tackle that scourge.

“So while politicians and policy makers snooze at the wheel, Unite’s ongoing fight to win better jobs, pay and conditions continues.”

The latest inflation figures come as Tesco last week posted its latest profits – over the last two years alone, Britain’s largest supermarket raked in more than £3bn in profits.

Unite believes this is further evidence that supermarkets – and big businesses across the economy – are profiteering like never before by price gouging their customers.

 In March, Unite published a new report on profiteering, which showed that the profits of the 350 largest companies in the UK have soared by 89 per cent in 2022 from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Unite’s research found that in the supermarket sector specifically, the top three supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda – which together sell over half the UK’s groceries, made combined profits of £3.2bn in 2021, nearly double pre-pandemic levels.

Commenting last month after supermarket price inflation in the UK hit a record high, adding £837 to annual household bills, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Despite the rise in wholesale prices, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda still managed to increase their profits by an astonishing 97% in 2021. At the same time the 8 top UK food manufacturers made profits of £22.9 billion. Profiteering is happening right along the food supply chain and workers are paying the price.

“It’s more evidence that the British public are hostage to greedflation,” she added. “It’s time our elected leaders and policy makers woke up to corporate greed and challenged it head on.”

By Hajera Blagg