DEFRA monitors retail food prices through the consumer prices index. Year on year, food prices have continued to fall, with a 2.8% fall in the year to May 2016. We also monitor trends in household expenditure on food through the family food survey. Following a period of higher food price inflation, retail food prices have fallen by 7% since their peak in February 2014.
Last week I visited a very successful food supplier in my constituency that told me that it was already putting up its prices because of changes in the exchange rate hitting imports, and predicted food inflation of up to 8% within months, following the leave vote. Clearly there are real impacts now. How will the Minister respond to a spike in UK food prices, which is a crucial issue for consumers?
As I explained earlier, one of the factors that has an influence on food prices is exchange rates. A number of analysts have been saying that in fact the pound has been unsustainably high against the euro for some time, caused by concerns about the weaknesses of the eurozone, and that the correction we have seen was overdue anyway. Exchange rates go up and down, but the crucial thing is that we have a competitive food supply industry in this country.