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Food inflation has become a major issue for many households in the UK, with reports that items as staple as tins of beans near-doubling in price within a year. What exactly is the food inflation crisis, and how can an average household navigate it safely?
Food prices have risen considerably in recent years, largely as a function of the wider cost-of-living crisis. Between trade difficulties borne out by the UK’s departure from the EU, the devaluing of the pound sterling against the dollar, and the shortage of seasonal workers to pick domestically grown produce, prices for food products and raw ingredients have gone up exponentially.
What makes food inflation a particularly notable issue for the average household is not just the regularity with which we buy food; the rate of food inflation against rising costs in other areas is also a point of major concern. While the overall rate of inflation, averaged across a wide array of products and services, just breached 10% in late 2022, the cost of food products increased significantly more – with some food products experiencing meteoric rises against others.
So, what can be done to reduce the impact of food inflation on your household? There are a few ways to approach this, across the length of the supply chain and also with regard to your own habits as a consumer.
One particularly hands-on way to circumvent the meteoric rises in the costs of food is to, quite simply, grow it yourself. With allotments oversubscribed in the UK, the best option would be to convert available garden space into an at-home allotment, and to grow an abundance of root vegetables and bush berries ‘in-house’. Fruit cages would help reduce losses to local pests, while a well-placed greenhouse can provide both security and the atmosphere for growing Mediterranean produce.
If growing your own produce is not a viable route to go down – whether due to lack of immediate funds or lack of time to give to your impromptu allotment – you can still benefit from locally-grown fruit and veg. Supermarkets were once the cheap option for fresh produce, but today the local farmer’s market is much more likely to yield an affordable basket of goods. There is the added bonus of putting money directly in the hands of your neighbours or local economy, too!
Lastly, there is something to be said of simply adopting shrewdness as a priority when it comes to shopping and budgeting. The price rises are steep but not uniform, making some recipes much cheaper to make than others. Meanwhile, own-brand alternatives to name-brand items are significantly lower in price, and can make a shop significantly cheaper in the process.
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