Britain’s favorite dishes have rocketed by as much as 23 per cent in the past year as food inflation soars, new research has revealed.
The cost of a ham sandwich has leapt by 22.9 per cent, according to analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics by private investor platform, interactive investor.
It has gained a picture of how inflation has impacted some of the nation’s favorite food items.
Following the humble ham sandwich, which has jumped the most in price since June 2021, a cup of coffee came in second place (up 18.1 per cent), followed by a chicken roast dinner (up 14.8 per cent).
Next up was a cottage pie (up 14.6 per cent) with the other items rounding out the shopping basket including bangers and mash (up 12.7 per cent), a cheese sandwich (up 12 per cent), and a cup of tea (11.5 per cent ), and steak pie (up 7.5 per cent) and home cooked fish and chips (up 6.7 per cent).
Alice Guy, a personal finance expert at interactive investor, told and the cost of each dish or beverage was worked out using basic recipes.
She explained: “For example, a chicken roast includes chicken, potatoes, carrots and cauliflower, while a cottage pie includes minced beef and potatoes.”
Touching on why the prices have increased so much, she added: “Meat prices are up significantly due to supply chain problems, increased production costs and staff shortages which have pushed up costs across the whole supply chain.”
interactive investor also compared how much ingredients had increased by since March 2020.
It revealed a ham sandwich has increased 24.6 per cent since March 2020, showing that most of the recent inflation is actually in the last year.
Likewise, inflation on a chicken roast dinner is up 16 per cent since March 2020 – only slightly higher than its annual inflation figure.
Food prices, overall, are rocketing in the cost of living crisis, with food inflation accelerating to 7 per cent in July, up from 5.6 per cent in June.
This marked the highest inflation rate since May 2009, according to the British Retail Consortium. It said the cost of fresh food was driven up by rising charges for fertiliser, animal feed and transport.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are doing all they can to absorb as much of these rising costs as possible and to look for efficiencies in their businesses and supply chain.
“Nevertheless, households and businesses must prepare for a difficult period as inflationary pressures hit home.”
A longer term view
Looking further back, interactive investor also tracked the cost of the key ingredients in some of the nation’s most popular dishes since 1971 (since records of inflation data of most of these ingredients began).
Since 1971, the price of a ham sandwich, for example, has increased nearly 17 times, and the price of a cheese sandwich has increased by nearly 15 times. The price of a cup of coffee also comes in 14 times more than in 1971.
Meanwhile, the British favorite – cottage pie – has increased at a much more modest level and has only doubled since records for this meal began in 1994. Similarly, bangers and mash have only increased 2.4 times since 1994.
Overall, researchers found that in fact, food inflation for most items has been at a very low level, or even deflationary for many years.
A large cottage pie cost over £10 to make in 2013 compared with £8.23 now. Likewise, a home-made cheddar cheese sandwich cost around 55p in 2011 compared with 49p now.
Breaking down the ingredients
Researchers say individual ingredients give a more detailed picture of what’s been happening and what’s triggered price hikes.
For example, the cost of meat and fish has risen at a faster rate than potatoes, meaning, it is comparatively more expensive to buy meat and fish, and cheaper to buy potatoes than it was 40-odd years ago.
The findings from interactive investors come as it has been shown that Britons are spending more on food than ever.
interactive investor’s Ms Guy concludes: “Food inflation has been crazy over the last year, but it’s important to put this in context so that we don’t panic consumers. Although the annual figures look high, taken over 10 years, food inflation is actually a lot more reasonable.
“For example, inflation for a cup of coffee is 18.1 per cent this year but has only averaged 2 per cent over the last 10 years and the cost of a chicken roast dinner, a cottage pie and a cheese sandwich has actually reduced over the last 10 years.
“By looking at a range of meals, we can also see that inflation isn’t the same across the board. All the meals in our research have increased in the last year, but the cost of some meats like chicken and ham has pushed up the cost of certain meals much higher than others.
“We would like to have included some more vegan meals using pulses, pasta, and rice in our research, but they are not currently tracked in the same way by the ONS. Switching to cheaper alternatives such as pulses and minced meat can be a good way to make your food budget stretch further.”
Experts say that consumers have more choice when it comes to food prices as opposed to household bills.
Myron Jobson, a senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, adds: “For example, the cost of adding a Yorkshire pudding to a chicken roast would add an extra 11p to the cost of your meal – but it could save over all as you might need less chicken, and be able to save some for a sandwich the next day.
“And for some, removing a Yorkshire pudding from the dish would be sacrilege. When assessing ways to reduce food bills, it is important to assess shopping habits and make palatable tweaks.”
Tips to save on food bills
Myron Jobson, a senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, outlines three tips to cut grocery bills.
Shop around and consider bulk buying
Shop around for the best deals – especially for high ticket items. Even simple things such as opting to purchase a store-brand equivalent of traditional larder products can help to cut down the cost of groceries. Consider buying items in bulk so you are not constantly spending as prices continue to climb.
Make use of loyalty reward cards
Making use of supermarket loyalty cards and schemes – such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar – can go a long way in offsetting price increases. Most loyalty initiatives offer worthwhile savings ranging from exclusive discounts to members to freebies by earning points. Make sure you note the expiry date on loyalty rewards, if applicable, so that you can use them before you lose them.
Plan meals and portions carefully
Creating a shopping list and sticking to it is an obvious way to save money. It is worth planning out your meals for the week ahead so you know exactly what you’d need to buy and have an idea of how much the ingredients will set you back. Also, consider how many mouths that need to be fed and portion control. This could also help reduce the amount of food you throw away.