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Food Prices

Volume 887: debated on Wednesday 5 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how much the price increases following the farm price review will cost the average household per week.

Preliminary estimates of the effects of the measures referred to by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in his statement on 17th February—[Vol. 886, c. 917–9.]—indicate that, allowing for the increase in the butter subsidy which was announced on 27th February, they will result in an increase of about 2½ per cent. on retail food prices, with a further small increase in the autumn.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what was the average United Kingdom price of 1 lb of butter, cheese, bacon and potatoes and 1 pint of milk on 1st March 1974; what is the average price of these items now; what has been the percentage increase in each case; and what will be the effect of the farm price review on the cost of each item.

The latest figures of average retail prices are for 14th January 1975. These are compared with the average prices for 19th March 1974 in the following table:

19th March 1974 average price in pence14th January 1975 average price in pencePercentage increase
Butter, per lb.:
Home produced23·827·1+13·7
New Zealand23·025·3+10·0
Cheese, per lb.:
Cheddar type35·240·5+15·1
Bacon, per lb.:
Middle cut, smoked56·767·5+19·0
Back, smoked61·173·7+20·6
Back, unsmoked58·771·6+22·0
Streaky, smoked46·153·8+16·7
Potatoes, per lb.:
Old white, loose2·53·2+28·0
Old red, loose2·93·7+27·6
Milk, per pint5·55·0-9·1
The increase in the United Kingdom intervention price for butter on 3rd March 1975 is equivalent to just over 6p per lb, of which about 2p will be offset by subsidy. There will be a further intervention price increase equivalent to about 2p per lb in September. Retail butter prices will depend on the current market situation, but the immediate increase over present levels may not average as much as 4p per lb.The increases in cheese prices will depend on the outcome of notifications by cheese manufacturers to the Price Commission in the light of their higher costs.The prices of bacon and potatoes will depend primarily on market conditions.The maximum retail price of milk was increased by 1p per pint on 2nd March 1975.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection by how much the food price index has risen since 1st March 1974; by how much it is estimated it will have risen by 1st March 1975; and to what extent present and prospective increases can be attributed to the United Kingdom's membership of the EEC.

The Food Price Index rose by 16 per cent. between March 1974 and January 1975, the latest month for which figures are available. It is not the practice to forecast future movements in the index.The further we move from the date of entry into the EEC the harder it is to calculate what food prices would have been had we stayed out. But, taking account of recent decisions by Agriculture Ministers on farm prices for 1975–76, it is estimated that the overall level of food prices in the United Kingdom is not at present significantly affected by our membership of the Community.