Today we release the annual Ulster Bank Ulster Fry Index. It shows that the price of items making up a cooked breakfast have increased by 2.8 percent in the last 12 months, based on the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).
Ulster fry inflation back for first time in 3 years
Consumers had been benefiting from falling prices – the Ulster Fry Index fell by 9 percent in 2016 and 3 per cent in 2015.
Of the main items in an Ulster fry, pork sausages (7.1 percent) and tomatoes (6.8 percent) have seen the biggest price increases in the past year.
Margarine is up a whopping 29.2 percent in the year, with butter seeing a price increase of just 1.4 percent.
Eggs are the only item to have fallen in price in the 12 months to the end of March – according to CPI, the price of eggs was down 5.8 percent.
Price still lower than in 2014
Despite the recent price increases, which are set to continue, the Ulster Fry Index is still almost 12 percent lower than it was in 2014.
Over the longer-term, though, it is over 25 percent higher than it was 10 years ago and 47 percent higher than in April 1998.
Insight into consumer finances
Food makes up a significant proportion of household spending. Food and drink is also a key sector of the Northern Ireland economy. So, understanding how the price of food stuffs are changing gives us some insight into both the current state of consumer finances, and also some of the challenges facing the agri-food industry.
There are a wide range of alternative indices around the world – from the Big Mac Index to the Cappuccino Index – which are intended to put economics into layman’s terms, and to shed new light on important economic issues. Ours is the Ulster Fry Index, and it hopefully gives the man or woman on the street a clearer idea of why their household finances currently are the way they are.
Ulster Fry inflation only going one way
Looking ahead, we only see the Ulster Fry Index going one way; up. Consumers are going to feel an increasing squeeze as the price of food rises in the months ahead. And of course cafes and restaurants also have to factor in rising energy and labour costs, for instance, in the prices they charge. The National Living Wage and the rising cost of gas and electricity will be key factors in their cost-base, and the prices they charge.