Spending pressure continues to impact fresh produce

Latest figures on the economy have highlighted the continuing pressure on household spending on fresh produce, with rising prices due to last year's poor weather and static incomes.

The latest Consumer Prices Index showed that, along with cereals and domestic fuel, vegetables were the category showing the highest price inflation, rising 8.1 per cent over the past 12 months.

The price of carrots has been reported as having increased by 44 per cent over the period, with potatoes up 43 per cent and Brussels sprouts up 24 per cent.

Fruit was in line with the food average, at 3.9 per cent. This was itself ahead of the overall figure for goods and services, which was held down by a dip in vehicle fuel prices and mortgage rates.

Meanwhile, last month's Asda Income Tracker, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), found that families had £12 less disposable income in real terms in November than in the same month two years ago.

Inflation is expected to be sustained by further food and utility price increases in the year ahead, the report added.

CEBR economist Rob Harbron said: "Price inflation on essential items is likely to be elevated in 2013 while weak economic conditions will hold back wage increases. Robust growth in family spending power is expected to remain elusive."

The Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted economic growth of 1.2 per cent in 2013, well below the long-term average.

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